Friday, December 29, 2006

Our backyard a few minutes ago


snow50, originally uploaded by Josh Gentry.

After I got home from work, about 45 minutes ago, I took this photo in our backyard. This is from the back of the house, looking towards the boat/library. For here in Albuquerque, this is a big deal. The two biggest snows I've seen here since 1993 have happened in the last week.

Notice the hat and stole St. Francis has on.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Page out of the Notebook II

Security guard
Constitution Party
Glassed in security booth
Bible
family pictures

Page out of the Notebook

Recently I started carrying a 3 x 5 notebook and a mechanical pencil in my back pocket. It's what I carry instead of a PDA. I jot down things I see, thoughts that occur to me, stuff I want to remember and maybe expand on later. For example, one page has this scribbled on it:

Momma had a dream
that I won the
lottery and they
found me dead in
a field.
I overheard that while waiting at a bus stop, and later posted Someone to watch over you.


I will post occasional pages from the notebook. If I post an explanation, it will be in the comments, so that you read the page from the notebook without pre-interpretation.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We're plumbed!

Plumber is done and gone and I've done most of the backfill of the holes. Instead of the original estimate of $850 (plumber digs) the total was $320.62 (Josh dug).

I just ran the washer and washed a dish in the kitchen sing :-)

I grow to you and our parting

I am pretty ready for people to start lynching spammers. That said, I do appreciate it when the random text they use to avoid filters is good. The title of this post was the subject of a spam I received this morning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Back Yard Archeology, Part III

Today was about working smarter. Unfortunately, it was also about working harder. So it goes. After reading yesterdays post, Peter, a co-worker, related to me the plight of his father, who had to dig up a sewer line that was buried 9 feet deep. Yikes! He didn't die in the process because a buddy of his recommended he use a water drill. He stuck a 9 foot piece of copper pipe on the end of a garden hose and used it to created a "perforated line" on each side of the intended trench. Peter claims he finished the job in 2 days. I decided to try it on the hard pan over the main line. Below is a picture of my water drill.



I was skeptical it was going to drill through this stuff, but it did, with varying success in different spots. Below is an action shot. If you look closely you can see a couple other holes drilled with the water drill.


It was still work to get a nice trench around the pipe, but I'd have never gotten as far as I did without the drill. It made a difference. Here I am looking down at that hole near the end of the day, deciding that the plumber would probably have to widen it to have room to maneuver, but I was done digging that hole.



The other trench didn't have nearly as much caliche, but it had the gas lines. I didn't use the drill here, but I did get the soil wet. Much lying in the mud and digging with a trawl. Here I am claiming victory.



I suffered one more defeat in the end. I thought I could get the line unclogged and usable now that I had both a clean out and access to the break in the line. I spent about 45 minutes snaking it and pulling out roots, soaked in what had been going down our kitchen sink and rotting there. I couldn't get it.

I'm as sore, stiff and tired as I've been in a long time. A full day's labour is enough to almost cripple me, these days. There are compensations. Near the end of my struggles Jae went to the store and got me a six pack and a bag of my favorite cookies. Then she cooked up a home-made, meat-and-potatoes meal. She looked at me with that look, the, "That's my man, taking care of the household," look. That's worth at least as much as the money saved.

Back Yard Archeology, Part II

It's the next day. I'm taking a vacation day to finish this. No pictures this post, but I'll have some good ones later.

I'm taking a break. To come into the house I have to disrobe entirely and put on a robe. Today involves lots of mud. I'm going to have some lunch, with coffee and ibuprofen figuring big.

You might be be thinking, "A day off to finish. I know digging is work, but it doesn't look like that much digging." If you've had to dig around pipes you didn't want to break, particularly gas lines, and in hard ground, you know my delima near the house. The picture from yesterday shows the two gas lines the break is sandwiched between.

If you know caliche, you, will understand my problem at the other end, uncovering the main line. Check out that wikipedia article. It's like concrete. You usually don't hit it till you get down a couple feet, but this spot its top to bottom. That main line was dug up and replaced 4 years ago. That would have broke up the caliche, but it got mixed all through, then we wetted it and tamped it down to reduce settling. Then the water line got dug up last year, and we really worked at wetting, tamping, wetting, tamping, wetting, tamping that area. We succedded. Ugg.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back Yard Archeology, Part I

4 years ago we replaced 110 feet of sewer line from house to city main. It was the original line from the 30's. I was really surprised to see that it was ceramic. Last year we replaced 100 feet of water line, also original. It was galvanized pipe, and it was nothing but rust. We thought we were done.

The washer/dryer are in our basement/crawlspace. The kitchen sink and the washer have a separate line leaving the house and meeting the main line in the yard. It has stopped draining.

When we had the water line replaced we had a "D'oh" moment when we realized half the price was going to be the plumber digging it up. Jae and I took care of that, with the help of some day laborers, and saved about a 3rd of the price. This line is not very long, maybe 15 feet. So I started on the digging, hoping to either find a small section that could be replaced, versus the whole thing, or at least save the money of digging it, if we have to replace the whole thing.

The fun is multiplied by the fact that the sewer line crosses two gas lines and the water line. That means digging with a trowel to avoid cutting those lines.

I dug up the end where it leaves the house. To my astonishment, I discovered a cleanout buried under about 2 inches of dirt. When we moved in, to our knowledge, we had no cleanouts. When the main line was clogged it had to be augured from the roof, via the vent for the toilet. When we have had this washer line run, it has been done from the basement, which has very steep steps and is tough space to work in. So that was the first time I broke out into laughter. This was the beginning of the laugh-or-cry. Picture below.


I got close to the where the gas lines should be and started digging with a trowel, following the washer line. After awhile, I became convinced the whole thing was fairly new PVC, unlike the other ancient lines that had been replaced. I decided there was a good chance the pipe was good and the most likely place for roots to get in was the joint where the washer line met the main line. Because I am so intelligent and know so much about plumbing.

I decided to dig up the other end, the end that joins the main line, and see if the roots where getting in there. The ground is really hard there, making digging with the trowel almost impossible. Also, every strike with shovel or post hole digger struck something non-dirt, mostly ceramic fragments of the old main line. You can see where this is going. I hit the shiny new PVC main line and put a hole in the top of it. I collapsed in despondency. Picture below, with duct tape to prevent dirt from falling in.



At that point I almost decided to just pay the professionals whatever it was going to cost them to do the rest. After all, there were still 2 gas lines and a water line I could damage. But you see, I'm not that useful around the house. I have few mechanical or home repair skills. I'm just not interested. Sometimes I feel a bit pathetic, though, and the thought that I couldn't even dig a damn hole to save us money was too much.

I went back out and started following the line from the house side, again, carefully excavating around the gas lines with the trowel. I dug 4 inches further along the line, yes, 4 *&^% more inches, and I found the baseball size hole in the washer line. The first sign was the dampness of the earth. The second was when I could barely dig through the roots with my little trowel. This time my near hysterical laughter brought Jae outside to make sure I was OK. Picture below. The yellow pipe on the right is one gas line, and the gray pipe on the left is the other. The broken sewer line is obvious.



The plumber has now been here and told us he could replace the bad section in the washer line and the section I damaged of the main line for $300, if I do the rest of the digging. I'm about to resume excavations.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Symbolism lost, refound

Cool post on the blog of my friend and collegue Daniel Abraham. <--That by the way is a link to the wikipedia article on Daniel. You have to link to that.

Don't Stop

Don't stop, sweet lips. Lie, lie.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Camera phones

Camera phones. We are Big Brother.

Big Brother isn't who you think

I'm going to post a six word story each day (sure). The title of this post is today's story.

Bias tape

It's just a phrase I like, bias tape. It's a sewing term.

Tricks of the Painting Trade

This is a particularly cool post over at Value Added Paper. Jae taught a figure painting workshop a couple weeks ago, and she used these two pictures for instruction.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"The Boat"


This summer I talked frequently about our new porch. This is a picture of it at night. One of its great features is a light. We spent most summer nights out there, reading or playing scrabble or dozing. It has a roof and we enjoyed being under there in the rain. We refer to it as "the boat", because it was so relaxing that it reminded us of lying on lawn chairs on a houseboat.

Friday, November 24, 2006

3 late berries


My photo is a little blurry, but hopefully you can make out the 3 blackberries in my hand. Believe it or not, I picked them today. Out of the 2 dozen or so berries we got this year, these were the sweetest.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Borrowed Words

You make your heart a decoration
It's like a broken violin
So carefully made empty
Taking only silence in
Taking saccharine to kill your pain
Won't you help me stripping cane
Won't you help me stripping cane tonight

Jeffrey Foucault, "Stripping Cane"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Turtle dream

Giant wooden turtle crushes quaint alpine village. Skiers flee with Starbucks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cool posts on Jae's blog

I dont' have any stories for you today, but Jae has posted some new stuff on Value Added Paper, including a picture of her in her booth at the Weems show.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Someone to watch over you

I rode the bus to work this morning. It was a fine November morning, sunny and warm. There was just enough chill in the air for me to wear a jacket. I had a book with me. A good morning.

I switched busses at Central and San Mateo. It is rare for me to ride the bus now, but I rode it to work every weekday for five or six years. I had no trouble identifying the huddle of figures on and around the bus stop as drunks. There were two or three Indian men and one loud white woman. The men never made a sound. They all had the dirty clothes and red, raw look of people who live on the street. The men had long, greasy hair and beards. The big woman had short, bristly hair and a harsh, nasal voice.

I stopped a distance from the bench, pulled my book from my bag and leaned against a light pole. I was trying to read Book 1 of _The Wealth of Nations_, but the woman's volcanic obscenity kept breaking through my concentration. I thought I had finally blocked her out, when one curse-free sentence sailed cleanly through my buffer.

"Momma had a dream that I won the lottery and they found me dead in a field."

I kept trying to focus on the division of labor, until the bus got there.

I positioned myself for early entry onto the bus so I could get a good seat. I did let the old man with a cane on in front of me. I was already in my carefully chosen seat when that loud woman started up the steps. The bus driver took one look at the red, glazed man following her and said, " No, I'm not taking him on the bus."

"Please, he goin' with me to watch out for me. They always cheat me."

"No."

"They always cheat me on my check. He's commin' to keep me out of trouble. Please."

The bus driver nodded curtly, and the two stumbled to a seat when the bus started to move. I never saw the man look up, his chin always resting on his chest. I returned to my book.

I was reading when we got to their stop. That voice grated against my eardrums.

"Thank you sir, he's comin' to watch after me. Yessir, he's gonna watch over me."

Her protecting angel.

Monday, October 30, 2006

6 word stories

Wired magazine recently asked leading sci-fi and horror writers to contribue 6 word stories for publication. The results are great fun, and you can read these Very Short Stories on the web.

I've been writing lately about how And the Ass Saw the Angel is becoming about storytelling. Jae and I thought the idea such fun that we decided to try some 6 word stories ourselves. I'm going to post our best so far. I also encourage you to contribute your 6 word stories in the comments for this post.

Is the safety on? Guess not.

She wore opals for a living.


Jae and I together penned the next one.

Uncle Stumpy was just too slow.



And Jae authored:

Sirens wail. Always wear opaque stockings.

Post your masterpieces in the comments.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Linear and non-linear thinkers

We have a new neighbor. Well, there is a new owner of the house to the south of us. He's going to be renting it. In the last year or two we've tried to be more neighborly, so we invited Bob over for dinner. Jae made a tasty dish of black beans and rice, and he brought a bottle of wine. We had a nice meal and a nice time.

Bob was talking about linear and non-linear thinkers. He's a little bitter at what he regards as a bias towards linear thinkers. The ability to focus on something and follow it through to completion is valued over creativity. Jae and I kept looking at each other amusedly. I'm linear and she' s not. As an example, Saturday night is date night. When date night rolls around each week, we ask each other, "What do you want to do tonight?" My answers are things like go see a movie, go to a bookstore, maybe miniature golf or play a game at home. Jae's most recent idea was to oil ourselves up and wrestle while blasting ABBA.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dinner conversation

We were seated in the back corner of the Thai House. It was a little Thai restaurant that we went to often when we lived in our apartment on Gold. It was only 2 blocks away then. We went much less frequently after we moved 3 blocks further. This made it nostalgic.

The dining area was a long narrow room, a wide hallway, as much as anything. Jae loves to sit in corners, so we took the booth in the back. I was talking to Jae about my day at work, and I had been noticing for the last couple minutes that her eyes were unfocused and she had a fixed little smile on her face. She wasn't listening to me. I knew why, but I didn't know what to do about it. I kept talking, beginning to babble, a little unnerved by my faux audience. Finally she blurted out, "I'm sorry. I'm distracted."

I raised my right eyebrow, that being the one I can raise, and held my hand up in between our faces, fingers spread and palm facing me, and started talking about my day, again. She laughed, and so did I.

I knew what was distracting her. Jae had the corner, which meant I had my back to the rest of the restaurant, but I had sonically discerned that there were three people sitting in the the booth one back and over. It quickly became clear that there was a young woman, her father, and her new step mother. The young woman was talking with great enthusiasm and volume.

"Neither Dad or Mom wanted us."

"You didn't want them?" the older woman asked. I didn't hear an answer from the father.

"I'm sure that's where the abuse came from," she said with a tone that suggested a glint in her eye. I sruggled not to turn and look. I was sure she was grinning.

"You were abused?" the step-mother trumpeted, the way she might have said, "They gave you a ticket for that?" I could imagine her turning open mouthed to stare at her new husband.

The young woman chuckled. "She couldn't do it herself, of course. She forced Rob into the role of disciplinarian. He had to do it. It's almost not even his fault." As if Rob had accidentally torn her dress on the playground.

"I think this convesation might be hard for your father..."

"Oh, he's heard it," she replied, in the tone you'd say, "No worries."

She giggled when she said, "rape."

It went on all through dinner, in fact, they were still at it when we left. We got up from the booth and Jae was walking in front of me. I saw her head turn towards the young woman as she passed the table, and I KNEW Jae was going to say something. I looked straight ahead and was preparing to walk around her. She slowed, but then looked ahead and picked up pace. I resumed breathing.

When we were in the parking lot, Jae looked at me.

"I was so close to leaning on the table and saying, 'Thanks for the enlightening conversation.'"

"I know," I said. "I know.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My other blog

I've decided this blog is going to be storytelling, which is really what personal blogs are anyway. Plus whatever random scribbling I might do.

But there are some things I'm trying to work out, more portentous (and possibly pompous) musings about values and politics and religion. I've got this new blog now over at Lift Up Every Stone.

*I used the spell check on this post, and it didn't recognize "blog."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A giant stumbles

We were at Jeri's having lunch. I was having the chicken chef salad, my new standard lunch, and Jae was having an egg salad sandwich. It was all on my tab. I'm a regular, you see, and I have a tab. Jeri's is that kind of place.

The TV behind the counter was on, as it usually is if Jeri is blasting spanish or christian music. It was early for lunch, so the news was on instead of soap operas. I wasn't facing the TV, but a segement caught my ear. The AOL call center in Albuquerque was closing. It meant the loss of 900 jobs, and the closing would be in December, just weeks before Christmas. I tried to hide my smile. Craning around to see the TV, I saw the news footage of stunned employees milling around in front of the call center, and I refrained from pumping my fist in the air.

I work at a local Internet service provider. AOL has long been the 900 pound gorilla of ISP's, and in its conception, style and operation, is the antithesis of everything I believe an ISP should be. Not only that, but it makes life hell for other ISP's that interact with it as part of the Internet, especially us small fry.

As we were walking back to my place of employment, it was sunny, the air was crisp, and the leaves were all gold on the trees. Jae, even more beautiful than usual, looked and me and remarked, "There's a spring in your step." Yep, and the giant stumbles.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lips and Clips

We were driving down Washington after work. We always drive down Washington after work. It's fall and the light was fading fast, so we were rushing through the cooling early evening to get to the school playground before dark. I was driving, and I heard muffled curse from Jae. I didn't look directly at her because I was driving, but I turned my head a little and glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. She had both hands up to her mouth, and said, "Pull over."

"What? Pull over?" I asked.

"Yeeeef."

I quickly signaled and turned right onto the next street. I parked on the curb and could focus on Jae for the first time. She had a large metal clip clipped to her lip. It was the kind of clip you use to clip a piece of paper to a board, and I'm sure that's what she had used it for, for clipping a drawing or painting to a board or piece of cardboard. Didn't seem like it should be that dangerous. I watched as she fought with it, wincing in pain. After about a minute she got it off. There was a definate dent in her lower lip. It was quite deep, more like a divet, though the skin wasn't broken.

"Got caught in the spring," she said.

I stiffled a laugh, but didn't really succeed. As I pulled away from the curb, she said, "Just goes to show you shouldn't use these on body parts." Then she clipped it to her right earlobe. "Ears are OK."

"Because they don't have any nerves."

"Right."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fascinating new blog

Full disclosure, this new blog is that of my wife, Jae. She's a terrific painter. Recently she started taking a picture of what she had painted that day. Now she's blogging those photos at Value Added Paper. It's fascinating to see these lovely pictures in their various stages. I've been watching for years, and I don't get tired of it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A work day

A rundown of a saturday workday for Josh.

  • Got in about 5 minutes late, 9:05 am.
  • Decided again not to purge my main mailbox (now at 12,000+ messages) If I don't stay on top of it every day it reaches critical mass pretty fast and explodes to this rediculous size.
  • Checked the report on server backups that happened overnight (all good)
  • Checked the health of a mail server I recently deployed, did a little queue manipulation that I'll need to automate soon
  • Looked at the messages in the Network Operations Center (NOC) support queue, closed a couple, updated a trouble ticket and closed it.
  • Took my break. Jae packed me a lunch so I didn't get lunch. Walked over to Starbucks, sat in the sun, read the first essay in _The Portable MBA_, which I borrowed from our General Manager's office.
  • Started defining the procedure we'll use to migrate accounts from our current mail system to our almost ready new mail system. Timing is everything.
  • Delivered the offsite backup to the place with the vault. The guard was new and I was his first vault customer. Basically I trained him. Showed him what paperwork to use, told him, "No, you don't let me through that door." Explained that he should check my ID against the photocopy of my ID in the book in the vault. Then I sat in the empty, air conditioned, echoy lobby for about 15 minutes until he brought me the disk I was picking up in exchange for the one I dropped off.
  • I answered the phone a couple times when there was overflow. Didn't get bogged down into any desktop support, luckily.
  • Now, in the remaining couple hours, I should get the migration procedure into the company wiki, and review trouble tickets one more time before leaving for my weekend.

Regina Spektor -- Cult of Personality


I picked up a Rolling Stone recently, first time in a long time. While flipping through, stumbled on a small article about Regina Spektor. Eye catching picture. Yes, she's hot, but it wasn't just that. She radiated personality in a rare way, and the article supported the idea that she was quite a character. One review I read said she had more than enough charisma. Boy howdy.

I found her website, and its one of the most comprehensive artist sites I've explored. You can stream the music from all her ablums. She's very talented, a gifted singer, a piano player, quite a lyricist. The music keeps you a little offballance, though, and some people don't like that. I don't like it all the time, but I sure have been enjoying it. Very little of it is typical, except her most recent album, "Begin to Hope." The music is quirky and playful and not the usual thing.

And everything about the way she presents herself is that way. I enjoy the music, but there is more to it than that. She has the most successful website, graphic design, and promotion stuff I've seen for a long time. The first image that really got me was the cover of her album "Soviet Kitch." Then, in the section of the website titled "reginapolis," there is the 20 page PDF, "The Survival Guide to Soviet Kitch." Captivating.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Talon and Vixen

One of the many ways I know I'm not young is that I don't get "energy drinks." I drink coffee. Anyway, I was at a Circle K the other day, and there was a promotional poster for the 2 drinks of a particular brand, one named Talon, one named Vixen.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Classic Jae



I'm not much of a photographer, but I'm tickled by this picture. It is quintesential Jae, and I love that its an action shot.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Morning visitor

The bright chill of Autumn visited us this morning, like a seasonal guest you see only at holidays, only hers is Halloween, not Christmas. We greeted our guest by curling up in bed naked, ménage à trois, naughty for making us late to work.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

next song

Well, I shouldn't call it a song, 'cause I can't write music. But I'm musing about my next lyrics. Very different tone than "Hold on Real Tight." The embryonic form:

No you don't really know me
And you don't really care
'Cause I drive an expensive car
And I've got executive hair
You know I can provide what's needed
If I'm lacking what is nice
something something leads into

I'll be the sun in your eyes when you're driving
The popcorn between your teeth
The rain on your car when you've washed it
Your TV when you've lost the remote

.
.
.

But I've got the sperm and the cash
He's got it

For the chorus I'm hearing a kind of call-and-response with a female chorus.

I have to give Jae credit for the phrase, "the sperm and the cash."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hold on Real Tight V -- for singing

I think I've got it.

There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

There's a wind in the willows
And the sun gutters like a torch
Shadows race across the prairie
And silouettes watch from the porch
There's rain on the tin roof
And the creaking of the swing
Two bodies warm the chill evening
Water in the gutter sings

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

The old mill leaks like a sieve
And the roads are turned to mud
Wet hair hangs in her eyes
And rain pounds in your ears like blood

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
Beware the thief in the night

There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

Repeat refrain

Friday, September 08, 2006

Amusing myself

Things I've said today that amuse me.

5 minutes to virtue

The boiled brussell sprouts of my youth

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hold on Real Tight IV -- Chorus

I got some feedback from others, and it confirmed some of my own concerns. The lack of a chorus was questioned. I was questioning it myself. Just unsure. Plus the 3rd verse was no one's favorite, and I wasn't comfortable with it. I decided, for grins, to try a version with a more traditional verse/chorus structure. One of the things that meant was lengthening the original verses. I came up with this.

There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill
The old mill leaks like a sieve
And the roads are turned to mud
Wet hair hangs in her eyes
And rain pounds in your ears like blood

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

There's a wind in the willows
And the sun gutters like a torch
Shadows race across the prairie
And silouettes watch from the porch
There's rain on the tin roof
And the creaking of the swing
She holds your hand like last hope
Water in the gutter sings

Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light


Then I was stuck. Does it need another verse?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hold on Real Tight III

I struggled to come up with the 3rd verse. At this point I had established this pattern of changing setting. The ocean shore seemed like a good, broad kind of place, but I'm not familiar with it, so I don't have a feel for the crucial details. Here's what I came up with.

There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

There's a wind in the willows
And the sun gutters like a torch
Shadows race across the prairie
And silouettes watch from the porch
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Feel the coolness of the evening
And the warmth in the night

There's waves crashing on the shoreline
And rain blowing in through the screen
The surf roars in furious abandon
And lovers rock with no distance between
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Slide along the surface of everything
Till you plunge into the night


At this point I was starting to struggle with coming with new variations for the last 2 lines of each verse. I also started to question the structure of the lyrics, namely the lack of a traditional verse/chorus.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Unrelated fragment

Sometime around the time I wrote the second verse for Hold On Real Tight, I scribbled this fragment on an adjacent page in the sketchbook. It's a little trite, but might be a good starting point.

A man's heart is a vessell
That holds just one day
24 hours of spinning
Part labour and part sinning
Some dark and some light
Part day and part night

Hold on Real Tight II

Little while ago, Jae gave me an annotated sketchbook she'd never gotten around to using. It's a hardback sketchbook with, of course, empty pages for sketching on. The annotated part is that about the bottom quarter of the page is lined like notebook paper. Sketch on top, notes on bottom. I thought it was a neat idea, and Jae gave it to me. That's where I'm writing this stuff down.

I think it was about a week later that I scribbled the first verse and then this second one into the sketchbook. I believe I was sitting on the back porch. At that point, here's what I had.

There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light

There's a wind in the willows
And the sun gutters like a torch
Shadows race across the prairie
And silouettes watch from the porch
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Feel the coolness of the evening
And the warmth in the night

I expanded on a theme and mood, but varying what you might call the setting.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hold on Real Tight

This might be silly, but it seems like the silly kind of thing blogs are for.

I'm making my first real attempt at writing what I hope could be song lyrics. I say hope, because I don't get the music part. I'm OK with words, but I don't understand their relationship to music. Anyway, I'm playing around with it, having a lot of fun, and I thought I'd record the evolution of things here.

I was inspired by a newly discovered song writer that Luke introduced me to. The artist is Jeffrey Foucault. One of the ways you learn a craft is to emulate the work of someone whose work you admire. I had been listening to the Foucault and I did this unintentionally, at first. I was hiking in the mountains and I composed this in my head while walking. It's the beginning of my first attempt at a song, and afterwards I noticed the unconscious influence of the the other writer.


There's water in the canyons
And rain up in the hills
There's a rushing in the rivers
And lovers stranded up at the old mill
Wrap your arms around your baby
Hold on real tight
Ward against the Devil's laughter
And the witching light


So there it is. This is the first post in a series about how this progresses.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Always Kent, never Superman

I have dark curly hair and a sort of generic face. Pretty much everywhere I've gone as an adult, someone has said, "Hey, you look like Clark Kent." This happens in different places and comes from people who do not know each other. One co-worker back in my IHOP days started calling me Clark as a nickname. It's not all that flattering to be associated with Clark Kent. He's a nice guy, but a total bungler. When I saw _Kill Bill 2_, I thought the lecture on Superman/Clark Kent was brilliant, and it also made me even less fond of being compared to Clark Kent.

Little while back, I was wearing jeans, a white T-shirt with a plaid, wool coat over it, unbuttoned, and a baseball cap. Jae looked at me, smiled fondly, and said, "You look so Pa Kent." We watched Smallville for awhile, and she definately meant the John Schneider, younger, handsome version of Jonathan Kent, vs. the elder Pa Kent we've seen in other media. Still, marks a differnt era in my life, I think, the switch from Clark to Pa. More flattering, too.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Credit where credit is due

Yesterday I posted, Fighting gut creep. I feel good about making some progress on controlling my weight. In that post, I didn't give Jae the credit for helping me that she deserves. There's a lot of jokes about wives nagging husbands, but I appreciate Jae giving me a push on this. She also has been packing me lunches so that its easier for me to eat well.That has helped very much. Thanks, Jae, for the help.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Breast implants save woman from shrapnel

Here is an advantage of breast implants that I haven't seen advertised.

JERUSALEM - An Israeli woman's breast implants saved her life when she was wounded in a Hezbollah rocket attack during Israel's war with the Lebanese group, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14365733/

Fighting gut creep

I'm tall, about 6' 2'', and I'm thin. Or I was for the majority of my life up to date. I have a narrow frame, and I was skin-and-bones well into my 20's. I was 145 in college, and sat at 155 for several years after. Too skinny. Then I go a little older, got married, and got a desk job. Since then I've been putting on a few pounds every year, not more than 5 a year. No big deal, right? I was too skinny to start with, and its just a few pounds a year.

Well, I topped out at 185. That doesn't sound heavy for someone of my height, but remember, I have a narrow frame. And little muscle mass. Also, ALL of it settles around my midsection. All gut. I still have the skinny legs and skinny arms, and this gut. So vanity wise, not great. Health wise it can't be great, either, and the trend is certainly bad long term. The insidiousness of the creep is that you think, "Few pounds a year, no big deal." Then 10 years later that's 30 pounds, and by the time I'm in my fifties I have a real weight problem. So I'm stopping the trend now.

No fancy diet. I'm lucky in that I'm still not a person who has to struggle with dramatic diets to lose weight. Basically, I'm eating less. I'm taking smaller portions, and trying to leave a little on my plate. I'm avoiding the really bad stuff, like I rarely have french fries. The struggle for me has been dealing with fealing hungry. I'm terrible at it. Thank goodness I'm starting to have the experience of the stomach shrinking, so you feel full with less food.

I've been fighting gut creep for 3 or 4 months. I've lost about 10 pounds. I feel good about it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Two for Joy

One for sorrow two for joy they say
I've had my fill of sorrow anyway
One for sorrow two for joy I know
I've been one for sorrow for too long


Jeffrey Foucault "One For Sorrow"

Minstrel Poet

It's all wild waste and welter
Come singing to the bong
No one can give you shelter
From the one thing that you own


Jeffrey Foucault "Wild Waste and Welter"

More from Mr. Foucault

And my dream came to me waking
On the cobbles and the rain
Maybe nothing is forever
Nothing is in vain


from "One Part Love"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Borrowed Words

The wages of sin
Don't adjust for inflation
It’s a buyer’s market
When you sell your soul


From Jeffrey Foucault's "Ghost Repeater". Could be a lot of borrowed words from Mr. Foucault. Thanks to my brother Luke for introducing me to him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Josh's Summer Reading

I'm on a roll. I guess its the summer reading thing. Having fun.

I have discoverd Phillip K. Dick. I started with _Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep_, and I am currently reading _A Scanner Darkly._ This man can do trippy. You know how lots of people TRY to do trippy, and fail, an then it's pathetic. Oh, you were trying for trippy, cool (not). But this man can do trippy.

In between those I read _The Dilbert Principal_. I'm a manager in a tech company these days. A tiny tech company rather than a huge one, but it still has a different resonance than it did before.

Yesterday I picked up _Invisible Cities._ Been wanting to read that one for a long time, so I'm excited. And today I received _The Devil in the White City_, and I have a bunch of expectation built up for this one. It's the story of the World's Fair in Chicago told through the lives of 2 real men, the architect who built the White City, and a serial killer who used the Fair as a hunting ground. This is true story.

And on the total fluff side, Jae and are reading several books by Garth Nix. They are fantasy books found in the children's or young adult section. He has a gift for creating worlds. He only gets into trouble when he tries to tell part of a story in the "real" world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wildcard

One of the guys I work with, known around the office as, Babs, is a wildcard. What do I mean by that? He's one of those rare people who, even after you have known them for years, still frequently surprises you.

For example, yesterday there was a discussion going on about snakes and spiders as pets. Babs walked in and started spewing information on the topic. I was trying to decide how much of it he was making up, when he said:

Babs: "Damn, I miss my boa. We used to go on drives all the time."

Josh: "You what?"

Babs: "I'd put him up on the dash and take him for drives all the time. Damn I miss that."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Men, shave your arm pits

Are you tired of those sweat rings under the armpits? The B. O.? Shaving your armpits helps greatly.

It will feel uncomfortable at first, and you have to shave every couple days or the stubble chafes. Good chance your partner will like it.

Another thing about Jae's job

She just paid off a big chunk of my remaining school loan :-)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Artists

My wife, Jae, is an artist. Her work adds beauty to the world. How cool is that? She sometimes is concerned that her job is not more "productive" for society. I see it differently. While there is lots of work that more directly supports the struggle to live, we need beauty for living to be worth it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Educators

As my last post shows, I've been thinking about what we do with our lives. A little belated, perhaps. My last post might suggest I think you are failing if you aren't a CEO or something. Not true. I just never really considered that I might be a CEO. That mental bound is what I was thinking about.

An example of folks who I think are admirable, even American heros, are my parents. They are both teachers in small town public schools. Public education, including for the rural and the poor, is one of the great triumphs of modern society. It's a hard, important job, and they make an daily impact on the lives of their students.

There is a lot of talk about how important education is, and its true. It is a foundation of commerce, of equal opportunity of outcome, of a public capable of deciding who its leaders should be, in short, what's great about the United States.

I have a friend, Pat Barton, who owns and runs a Montessori school. It's a little different, right. It's private, people who think about it and choose and who can afford it, or choose to sacrifice for it, send their kids there. It provides a market based alternative. Another great thing about America. On top of thet, Pat is a small business owner who creates jobs for teachers. Another American hero.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thought Experiment

There is a blog I read that is different from the others I read. It's a personal blog, individual, quirky. It is hit or miss for me. He'll have several posts, spread over weeks, that mean nothing to me. When he posts something that resonates with me, though, it often really hits the target. It's the Ming the Mechanic blog. I just read one that resonates with me.

This post, Thinking Bigger Tricks, is the one I'm talking about. I'm going to quote liberally from it.

Another experiment: imagine you're an inter-galactic agent who's been sent to this planet in order to clean things up. The planet is on a downward course, people are fighting about stupid stuff, destroying their environment rapidly, and following self-serving leaders who don't have more of a clue than they do. Something needs to be done, so the Grand Council in the galactic core have sent YOU. What are you going to do?

Most of us settle down on having a certain standing in life, a certain sphere of influence, a certain range of things we might attempt to do. It is different for each of us, but most of us imagine certain boundaries around our sphere of influence.

. . .

Some people, who seem no more well-equipped as human beings than me, might choose bigger lots in life. To be a politician, and be elected to office, for example. They're not smarter people, but merely people who assume that they ought to do that.

Am I living small simply because I don't assume I should be living large?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Another Tasty Summer Treat

I posted before about the frozen grapes. Here is another one for you. Buy a seedless watermelon, blend. Perhaps the best beverage on earth.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Lowdown on Lowbrow -- All-Girls Roller Derby

Saturday nights are Date Night for Jae and I. This past weekend we started early by attending a game of Duke City Derby. That's right, roller derby. Jae had gone to a game the month before, when I was out of town. She got a kick out of it, and talked me into going.

When I think sporting event, I think spacious, well-lit space with bleachers. Try bar lighting, bar seating, wood ring in the middle. There were hot dog and pizza vendors outside. Bad beer only inside. A really bad band, the kind that makes up for being bad by being really loud. Although they get points for having a cute cowgirl playing the accoustic base.

We found our first seat at a table where someone Jae knew was sitting. They had chosen their spot partly for its view of the "penalty box." You see, being put in the penaly box involved being put in stocks and spanked by a vinyl-clad, red haired dominatrix, complete with riding crop. She had these great bat tatoos, one on the back of each thigh, showing just below her provacatively short skirt.

The match we saw pitted the Ho-Bots agains the DoomsDames. The players wear ridiculous outfits, and have derby names, the best probably being Molotov Cocktease. My favorite player was Dahmernatrix. She has the size and physical play of a Blocker, but was also her team's best Jammer. Her place in my heart was cemented during the entertainment between bouts 2 and 3. They took the player from each team that had the most penalty points, and made them play roller derby musical chairs. What that meant was that the two women, still on skates, circled a bar stool till the music stopped, and then wrestled for possession of the stool. After some thrashing about on the floor, Dahmernatrix wrapped her thunderous thighs around the stool and took possession.

It was an interesting crowd. It was a mix of rednecks, goth and punk types, dykes, and college kids slumming. Not sure where we fit in.

I was surprised by the amount of strategy involved in the bouts. It took me most of the game to start to follow. One announcer described it as a cross between chess and a riot, which amuses me to no end.

All in all, great fun. We'll be returning next month.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summer Treat -- Frozen Grapes

Cheap, easy, and exquisite summer treat. Buy some grapes, wash them, dry them, and through them in the freezer.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Entrepreneur?

I have never thought of myself as a potential entrepreneur. It takes ambition, guts, a willingness to take risks and work too hard. Right? Not my defining characteristics. Recently, however, I have participated in low-intensity entrepreneurism. Like millions of people around the world, I am doing this with a most interesting advertising company, Google.

About 6 years ago I wrote 2 tutorials, Cisco Router Configuration Tutorial, and IP Subnet Calculations. I published them at www.swcp.com/~jgentry. That was before I had a domain. I promoted them a little bit by registering them with the major search engines and linking to them, when appropriate, in posts on news groups and mailing lists. I did this for a number of reasons. One was to build professional credentials. Another was to give back to the Internet community that had answered so many of my questions. And another was to do something well that often isn't, technical writing.

Traffic to these tutorials has built over the years. Since the beginning I have gotten a kick out of the global nature of the readership. I have also been gratified to receive thanks in email, requests to translate the documents, requests for permission to use them in university classes. Makes me feel good. Now its also making me a little money.

This is not about getting rich. Right now, however, I am surprised to find that it is a modest addition to my income. In february of 2005 I got curious about Google ads on websites. I checked out how it worked, and it was stunningly easy to signup for an account and place Google ads on my web pages. You can play with add style and placement as much or as little as you want. I put some banner ads across the top and waited to see what happened. To my surprise, those ads immediately started generating about $100/month in advertising revenue, paid to me by Google. They deposit straight into my bank account. Cool. Remember that this is money generated by advertising on web pages I had created 5 years prior. The work was done.

In March of 2006, around the 1 year anniversary of my starting with Google ads, I decided to spend a little time playing with ad style and placement. This is all the work I had done in the year since first adding the ads to the pages. I did a little experimenting, and by chaning style and placement of ads boosted the monthly average to over $300/month. That has held so far.

I've decided to create more content. This is more risky, in terms of ROI, than just putting ads on pages that were created years ago. This means doing new, real work, in hopes of increasing revenue. Hey, look at me, I think I'm an entrepreneur.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

new scribbling

I occasionall scribble. Some of it is posted on my website. If you go to that index and look at the bottom, you'll see, _Patricia Thirdday and the Citrus Sorrow_. That's a new little thing. Its a PDF.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Anna Rocks

My sister Anna just graduated from Loyola University Chicago. She graduated with two majors, a minor, and she graduated Cum Laudi. I think she got some of the drive I was supposed to get. I got to go for the graduation, and Anna let me crash at her place. She graciously let me have her room, and took the couch. She's nicer than me, too. I guess I was a practice child :-)

Anna is 13 years younger than me, so I left home when she was pretty young. I haven't seen her a bunch as an adult. Got to hang out with her. She, Nick and I had beers at Hamilton's. She, Nich (Nick?), Krista and I walked around Belmont. She and I had sunday brunch at a diner. I like her. I knew that, but now I know it more.

I had not met Nick, and I am predisposed to be critical, him dating my little sister and all. Nick is cool. I like Nick.

I liked everybody :-) It was also great to see my brother Luke, my niece Julia, and my Mom and Dad.

But it was Anna's weekend. Anna rocks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Human," she said.

Some of my co-workers were good naturedly giving each other a hard time today, calling each other names, and one ended it by calling the other, "human." You know, it went something like:

"Asshole," she said.

"Bitch."

"Human."

Pause.

"Oh, that was good," he said.

Really rang true later in the day when we were having a little office soap opera. Sigh.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Monster Ballads and the Stations of the Cross

Borrowed lyrics from the Josh Ritter song, "Monster Ballads"

O
Ones and zeros bleed a mesa noise
When you're empty there's so much space for them
Turn it off oh then a still small voice
Comes in blazin' from some vast horizon

Out on the desert now and feelin' lonesome
Bonnet wears a wire albatros
Monster ballads and the stations of the cross
Sighin' just a little bit, Sighin' just a little bit


You really should hear it with the melody. You can if you go to the link above. Streams the entire new album from a flash music player.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Faux Real

When we saw the Spearmint Rhino, we were driving around town on a tour of architect designed homes. There's an architects professional association that organizes this tour every year. We were in one "loft", kind of modern, with stained concrete floors, exposed trusses and ducts, etc. At the display area, on the kitchen counter, was a flyer for one of the design firms involved, Faux Real. Yes, on the same day we saw a strip club named Spearmint Rhino and a design firm named Faux Real.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spearmint Rhino

Today we were driving with some friends on a street that passes a "gentleman's club." I noticed its name had changed, because the new name was hard to miss . It was Spearmint Rhino Gentlemans Club. I pointed out the new name and expressed puzzlement. Our friend interpreted for us:

Spearmint Rhino -> fresh and horny

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Amazing Grace

Jae and I were discussing what to us are the greatest pieces of music, and we agreed "Amazing Grace" is in the top echelon. Jae mentioned that it had been written by a slave trader. If I had heard that before, I had forgotten. Wikipedia has an interesting article on the song.

We have a cassette with the famous Judy Collins rendition, which is hard to beat. Among my farvorite reditions is one taped for me by my sister Anna, I think it a tape she sent me back when I was in college. Maybe it was little later than that. Anyway, its a favorite version.

Do you have a favorite rendition of "Amazing Grace"? What is it?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Platinum Rule

The management training was OK. As we so often do, though, I am going to focus on the negative :-)

The speaker introduced us to the Platinum rule. See, Christ ALMOST got it right, and a helpful management guru improved it for us. OK, you're dying to know what the Platinum rule is, right. Well, I'm not going to tell you. It's exactly as stupid as you think it is and the specifics are irrelivant. The sheer hubris ... its staggering.

Right before I started this post, I googled for the platinum rule and discovered its the foundation for a whole business. You can check it out yourself at http://www.platinumrule.com/

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bragging, part II

Jae has a one person show at Weems gallery that officially opened today and runs to the end of the month. I say officially, because as they've been hanging the the pictures this past week, they've been selling them. Jae painted 20 new paintings for this show. As of 1pm today, 19 had sold.

You can see a picture of a portion of the wall-o-Jae at the gallery, and poor photos I took of my 2 favorite pictures in the show: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshgentry/

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Management Training

Today I'll be in a managment trainging seminar from 9am-4pm. I'm trying to keep an open mind and not write it off as all bullshit before I get there. Signin is at 8:30am, 30 minutes earlier than I go to work, which is not improving my predisposition.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Josh Ritter has a new album

I've written before about Josh Ritter on my website. He could really be one of my altime favorites. He has a new album shipping this month, and you can stream the whole thing from his website if you have Flash.
http://www.flashenhanced.com/joshritter/

Bragging, part I

Last night was the opening of the New Mexico Masterworks show. It is an interesting show. New Mexico is a big art state, and its not surprising I guess that you have some fragmentation. There are the state art societies, like the New Mexico Watercolor Society, the New Mexico Pastel Society, there are the galleries, there are various annual shows, there are amatures and professionals. The Masterworks show brings a lot of those elements together in a way that doesn't happen much the rest of the year. It only started a couple years ago, but its quality and popularity is up every year.

All this is really to say that Jae was awarded Best of Show for Masterworks 2006.

Note: OK, that's weird. If you google for New Mexico Masterworks and click onthe ABQJournal link, you see the article. If you click on the link to that page above, you get the page that says you have to be logged in.

Warm Beer and Cold Women

"Warm Beer and Cold Women" is the title of a Tom Waits song that I heard yesterday for the first time. Does that convey despair, or what?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Is there an artificial God?

A littl while back, my brother blogged about dealing with his anger. He has a child with cancer, so he has cause to be angry, or does he? Really, the post is about what life is and how to deal with it, and ultimately, I guess, wisdom. Money quotes are:
I'm angry that the reality of my life doesn't match the fantasy that I was living out and expecting to continue.

and
Life is messy. Get over it. Give up the fantasy. Embrace the beautiful parts of reality. Love is real and beautiful. Love cannot be fantasy.

A friend of ours, Jim, wrote a comment to that post about how his belief in Christ helps him deal with life. I can't link directly to his comment, but you can find it in the comments to the post I linked to above. Money quote:

For me, my faith in Christ--symbolized here with the act of communion--is what I desparately need and what helps me live.
Both men are struggling with, yes, the meaning of life, and how to deal with the pain and disappointment that is such a part of life. Many people, including Jim, find at least part of the answer is religous belief and a spiritual life.

I recently read, The Salmon of Doubt. It is a collection of miscelanious stuff written by Douglas Adams, published after his death. There is one piece titled, "Is There an Artificial God." The note at the end says it is an extemporaneous speech given at Digital Biota. It is a rambling piece filled with half-formed arguments and ideas. There is one thread running through it that fascinates me. Adams talks about how we are used to this top-down idea of God. The first mover creates the universe than sits astride the pyramid. Many people these days do not believe this. It is also not an original idea that God might be made in humanity's image. What Adams points out is that our understanding of the physical and biological world is teaching us that order and complexity are derived from the bottom up. What we percieve as smoothly functioning, complex systems at one level, are often the aggregate of simple and messy systems at lower orders. What if God is an emergent phenomenon arising from human culture?

Clearly this is the thinking of someone who does not accept the idea of God as taught by the great world religions. A startling consequence of this line of thinking is that not believing in a creator God, or a supernatural personality does not neccessarily lead to theconclusion that God is unimportant or does not exist. God might be a vitally important phenomenon that emerges from human activity.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

strength comes out of weakness

You should reason this post of Susan's. It is mostly the contents of an email from someone on a neuroblastoma mailing list. The heart of it is:

strength comes out of weakness

love is forged in the fires of battle

patience comes through trials

wisdom comes through loss

grace comes through pain

kindness and compassion come through having been wounded

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Winter Cities, Book 2 of the Long Price Quartet

I posted before about Daniel's book, A Shadow In Summer, which is available now. Daniel sent me the word processor file of the manuscript for the next book, Winter Cities. I'm printing it out in batches like a serial and we are reading it for our bedtime story. How cool is that?

We've come across one great bit already. I'll give you some backround and a quote, but I'll leave out the character's name to avoid this being a spooler. There is a character that had great status as a priest/sorceror, but when the chips were down, blew it. At least in the eyes of his society and his order. The following quote is the result of him being summoned to speak to the head of his order, quite possibly the most powerful man on the planet, years after the failure.

There was no reason for the Dai-kvo to have called him back to repeat the indignities of the past.

There are always indignities of the future, the soft voice that had become his muse said from a corner of his mind. Never assume that you can survive the future because you've survived the past.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leading the Rear, Uploading Photos

In my post, New Year's Resolution, I resolved to keep in touch with family and friends in ways that make me seem cool. Well, uploading photos to the net is status quo now, so I can't claim this makes me look cool, but I'm sharing some photos online. If you followed the link from yesterdays post, you've seen all of them already except the one I just uploaded.

Their is a woodworker, Eric Fryer, who is a genius. I had lusted over his work for years. About 2 years ago, Jae traded Eric a portrait of his wife for a rocking chair for me. It's all handmade, hardwood, mostly walnut. It's incredibly comfortable for a piece of wood furniture, and its simply gorgeous. This picture is not great, but it gives you an idea.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshgentry/

Monday, March 27, 2006

Jae's little joke


Here's a photo Jae took of me on a weekend trip we took to Silver City, last year.

I'm just starting to upload some photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshgentry/

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hijinks

This morning, during our daily 15 minutes of vigorous house cleaning, Jae attacked me with a sharpie, saber style. I pulled one of my sweet kung fu moves and kicked it out of her hand (I was surprised I could get my leg that high.) She got revenge later by biting my butt.

Yardwork = Beer

Shorts and T-shirt today. While Jae was working at her studio, I decided to do some yardwork. I did lots of watering, transplanted a rose, picked up some of the trash blown our way by the spring wind. I also swept the sidewalk in front of the house. When I was done, I was parched. It was so time for some beer. I'm usually an ale man, but a lager just felt right. I'm quaffing a Killian's Irish Red, and damn am I enjoying it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Problem with Sequals

We were driving home from seeing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", and Jae said, "That's what the Bible is missing, centaurs."

I pointed out that the Bible does have pillars of fire and flying chariots and such. We started musing about Bible story movies done by Peter Jackson, and we were like, "It'd have to be Old Testament, of course." Then Jae says, "The New Testament has the same problems as all sequals."

I laughed for a long time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Zen Saturday

Saturday we'll be dropping off a gift at a baby shower, on the way to a funeral.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Betty Bax George

Betty Bax George was a delightful woman for, I'd guess, well over 80 years. She died on tuesday.

I met her about a year ago. The Artists' Studios, a co-op of artist studios, had an open house. Jae and Betty shared a studio space. It was a hard day for Jae, she was ill and spent most of the time napping in the car and feeling terrible. Worked out well for me, however. I sat Jae's booth for her, and that's how I met Betty.

Jae and Betty's studio was in the back, a little isolated. We got some traffic, but we also got to chat. She was brilliant company. Once in a great while you meet a person who is a delight to talk to. That was Betty. There was nothing fake about Betty. She was warm but straightforward, no bullshit. During the open house, she hoped the crowd was moderate and the wine would keep flowing. She told me about being an RAF driver during WWII, and how they almost had to cancel her wedding to Bill, an American G.I., because of the invasion of Normandy. She adored her children, she missed her sisters in England. She loved to read and talk about books. She made some beautiful pictures. I never heard her complain about the arthritis that knarled her hands, or the oxygen she carried everywhere. I'm rambling, I can't "capture" her for you.

She and Jae liked each other well, and they saw each other often at the studio. After that open house, Jae and I would try to have lunch with Betty once a month, but we fell short. Our loss. I count myself lucky that I knew her for that year. We miss her, say true.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More of the same

This post is some followup to the last 2. There's a thorough review of A Shadow in Summer at
Emerald City. One of my favorite bits from it is:

Good grief, a fantasy world in which the author has thought about the economic uses of magic! There are not too many of those around.


A comment to the Church Sign Generator post leads to a bonanza of similiar toys:

www.customsigngenerator.com

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Shadow In Summer

Daniel Abraham is a friend of mine from work, and Jae has known him for far longer. His first novel is available at Amazon on March 7th. I got email a couple days ago that my pre-order had shipped. What is way cool is we've already read it. We got to read one of Daniel's promo copies. It's good. True, we are predisposed to like it, but both Jae and I really think it's a good book.

It's really smart. It's fantasy, what Daniel referes to as "High Fantasy." In other words, its on the intelligent and literate side of fantasy, versus the formuliac stuff churned out for adolescent boys. It has romance, grimly realistic politics, and characters that come alive off the page. It's very human, there's a lot of ambiguity, its genuinely on of the best new books I've read for awhile. Especially if you like fantasy, you should give it a try.

You don't have to just take Jae and I's word for it. He's getting some rave blurbs from big league writers, such as Connie Willis.

"Reader, be warned: If you open Daniel Abraham's A Shadow in Summer, he will lead you into a strange, seductive world of beatings and poets and betrayals, intrigues you do not fully understand and wars you cannot stop and places you are not sure you want to go. Intricate, elegant, and almost hypnotically told, this tale of gods held captive will hold you captive, too."
--Connie Willis, Hugo Award-winning author of To Say Nothing of the Dog


The book is _A Shadow In Summer_, by Daniel Abraham.

Day of Profound Coffee Making

I make the coffee in our house. The reason: I get up first. We don't have a coffee maker. I discovered that these tea bags worked nicely for making single cups. I put a kettle of water on the stove, and while it is heating, I get the cups and bags ready. Jae and I drink different coffee, so I know which cup is going to be hers and which cup is going to be mine. This morning I realized that I always pour the water in my cup first. Meaningless habit, or subtle sign of self-centeredness?

I titled this post, "Day of Profound Coffee Making," because my brother also posted about coffee making today.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Culinary Adventure: Korean Cuisine

Jae and I decided to go someplace new for dinner, someplace that would be an adventure. There was a restaurant we had been driving by for a couple of years, advertising "Korean Barbecue". I knew I liked Boulgogi, but hadn't had much Korean. Jae often had Korean when she was in a dorm in college, because she hung with the international students. She adores Kimchi, which I won't let her eat in the house. Based on that little knowledge, I figured Korean wouldn't be boring. It was a gamble, and we felt like a gamble, so we went.

We split dishes, family style. First came the steamed dumplings. Those were familiar from other asian food. Yummy. Then came the Kimchi pancake. Jae described it as a cross between a Kimchi omelet and a pancake. I did not expect to like it. It was a vivid orange and it was visibly obvious there was quite a bit of Kimchi in it. I ate half. It was intense, but I decided I liked it. That was the big surprise of the evening.

Then came the boulgogi. That's the barbecue part. We ordered pork, and man was it some good meat. Happily, it came with several side dishes. One little bowl of bean sprouts that I guess were pickled, a bowl of seaweed, and a bowl of fish strips.

We really enjoyed it. It was new, it was fun, and we liked everything.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Use Your iPod for backups

Small technology tip in the personal blog today. Backups for laptops are a cronic problem. I've started backuping up key files from my laptop to my iPod. Its a multi-gig portable harddrive, after all.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Surprisingly Good Movies

Over at my brother Luke's blog we've been discussing the worst movies we've ever seen. Here I'd like to start a similar discussion. What movies most surprised you by how good they were? Again, I'm not asking what your favorite movies are, but what movies did you watch expecting to be bad, and ended up enjoying them?

For example, my lists includes:

"Seed of Chucky"
"Constantine"
"The Bourne Identity"

What's on your list?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Act Forcefully

Writing is something every literate person does, like it or not. We often do it badly. Partly this is due to lack of education and care of the basic craft of writing. Sometimes it is systematic, which is bizarre. When you combine the general lack of skill in writing, and systematic warping of language, you get unexpected results.

For an example, I have a local news story that is also getting national coverage. A nurse at the VA hospital in Albuquerque wrote a letter critical of the Bush administration, and it was published local paper. As a result, her computer at work was seized, and it was reported that she is being investigated for Sedition. The ACLU is representing the nurse.

I read the story and said out loud, "I guess I'll keep giving money to the ACLU every month." This interested Jae, and she read the story, including the nurse's letter.

Her response was, "Yep, that'll get you in trouble."

"What?", Josh asked.

"She advocated violence to overthrow the government."

"Huh? Did we read the same letter?" asked Josh.

"This sentence right here.", said Jae, pointing.

"We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration..."


I responded that interpreting the phrase "act forcefully" as encouraging violence was silly. The worst habit of writing is lack of precision. "Act forcefully," I argued, was much more likely to mean impeach than to mean remove at gun point. Jae did not agree. To prove my point, I googled for "act forcefully." The results surprised me. Most of the hits were from articles or statements that were overtly political in nature. In the political cases, "act forcefully" clearly meant "use violence." In political speech, "act forcefully" is systematically used as a euphemism for violence.

This depressed me. First, because I lost an argument. Second, because this cowardly warping of speech is a reflection of the inadequacies of politics. Would it hurt to speak plainly when we are talking about killing people? This is a subject on which I want people to be clear.

I recommend you read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language." If nothing else, read the section where he rewrites a verse from Ecclesiastes the way it would be written by a modern politician or bureaucrat.

You can read about the VA nurse, from an obvious slant, at http://www.progressive.org/mag_mc020806

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Idle Chatter

Journals are individual. It's part of their essence. For this blog, I have chosen to avoid the daily ramble. Nothing wrong the daily ramble, and I enjoy it when other people do it, its just not what I'm doing with this blog. Except today I am.

I'm lunch. That's a fun typo. I mean, either, "I'm at lunch", or, "I'm lunching." I shouldn't admit to using the second. Strunk and White would not approve of the verb->into->noun. I brought a copy of ;Login with me. Its the publication of USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association. Looks like a good issue. I just couldn't do it. Not in the mood to focus and think.

Ala the magic that is the iPod, I am listining to Josh Ritter's new song, Thin Blue Flame. I'm listening to it over and over, which is the most elequant review I can give it. At 10 minutes long, of course, I can listen for long time without repeating it much. I'm surprised to find I've never blogged about Josh Ritter. I wrote these awhile ago, reviews. After that we saw him live. I guess I only gushed about that in email. My prediction, he's a star just over the horizon about to go nova.

I'm drinking Dragonwell, eating strawberries and listening to Josh. Do I really have to go back to integrating the systems of 3 ISP's?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If I Only Had a Brain

Potential titles for knowledge base type stuff:

If I Only Had a Brain
Scarecrow

I have an interest in training, teaching, "knowledge transfer". Mostly because I could be good at it, at least in terms of creating written materials.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

So there

Many of us are familiar with ending prayer with, "Amen." In the new Battlestar Galactica they have a nice variation. At the end of group prayer, and also at the end of some secular addresses, they end with everyone in the group saying, "So say we all." Jae has her own variation. Jae reads out loud from a Buddhist text while I drive us to work in the morning. At the end, she finishes with, "So there."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Borrowed Words

Some lyrics today. From Emmylou Harris's "Deeper Well"

I was ready for love I was ready for the money
Ready for the blood and ready for the honey
Ready for the winnin', ready for the bell
Lookin' for the water from a deeper well

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Broad, Sweet Behind

The idealized American female, when she has an ass, has an aerbocized ass, a marble peach. I admire these beautiful posteriors as much as the other guy, but I also appreciate the broad, sweet behind.

The marble peach is firm, round, and is in close proportion to the other parts of the body. The young and the athletic have these tempting tails. The broad, sweet behind, is an upside down heart. It extends out in the direction of the hips. That expanse creates the most lascivious curve a woman has, a curve that describes the ratio of hip to waist, a sinful slide, a place for hands.

You can get a handful of a broad, sweet behind. You can get a good bite of one, too. You won't bruise yourself on it. You could be smothered with one.

So three cheers for all the women in the world on step ladders right now. A big "Hurray" for all the girls perched on stools in lab class. A round of applause for those reaching for something on the bottom shelf. You make today a better day.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What I've Learned About Fashion

My fashion IQ is low. I've been slowly picking up best practices. What I've learned so far:


A. Don't wear brown shows with dark pants.
B. Belt is good.
C. Shoes and belt should match (get a reversable one, black/brown)
D. Other things being equal, solids are more formal than checks or stripes.
E. Other things being equal, black is more formal.
F. Some of your clothes should fit, rather than being baggy (doesn't mean tight)
G. Try to find pants that flatter your ass. That usually means looking in a mirror when trying them on.
H. My wife is right.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Eve I wrote Playing to Your Weakness. The thesis was that to have a real chance at keeping a resolution, it had to appeal to one of your weaknesses. That might sound odd since resolutions are usually about doing someting better, but that's the kind of cynic I am. I have made my resolution for this year.

The other day I ran across a design at www.cafepress.com that gave me a chuckle. I saw it was available on postcards. I thought, "If you got that postcard from me, you'd think I was cool." Eureka! I have my resolution. Most of my family and friends are geographically distant. I'm not good about keeping in touch.

I hearby resolve to kee in better touch this year by communicating in ways that make me look cool.


It can be cool stationairy, cool technology, whatever, as long as it makes me seem cool.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Turning 35

January 17th was my 35th birthday. I took off an hour early to go home and celebrate with my wife. Not only were we celebrating my birthday, but we were having Christmas, for us.

I parked in the driveway and headed for the mailbox. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jae bend down and pick up a piece of paper. I stopped when she said, "Oh shit."

"What," I asked.

"This is a check. It was in our bedroom."

Forgetting the mail and the groceries in the back of the car, we rushed round to the back door. Still closed and locked. Must have been a window then, but they all have bars. How?

We entered the kitchen through the back door. Cabnets and cupboards were open; rags from under the sink were strewn on the floor. It was cold. Colder as we headed for the living room. All the windows have bars, but the swamp cooler vents, vented, through one window in the living room. The swamp cooler was lying on its side on the ground, next to the blocks it used to be on. Scattered in pieces were the interior cover for the vent, the insulation. The bedroom was the other room that had been ransacked. The contents of dresser drawers were emptied out on the floor. He took the change jar off the dresser.

The cops came and went. I went and told our neighbors, so they could be on the alert. Ben and Neena came over to wait with us, and on learning it was my birthday, offered to take us out for dinner. We went to the Saigon 2000 Restaurant and Emissions Testing. They make these great sandwiches with the same pork they put in the Bun. On the way home, Jae was talking about the cleaning up, and said that it wasn't any worse than if we ever threw a wild party. That got a laugh, and some riffing on the theme:

"Hey, remember that party where the swamp cooler got pushed out the window?"

"Yeah, and all the sex toys came out of the dresser!"

"That was a good party."

While putting stuff back in the drawers of the dresser, I found a treasure I had almost forgotten. I inherited a watch from my Grandpa Hamm. The watch was just a cheap plastic watch, but the sentimental value it carried was huge. I wore it a little bit, and then one of the corners that holds the strap broke off. For my next birthday, Jae found the case of an old, silver pocket watch, and encased Grandpa's watch inside. I keep it in a black velvet bag in my drawer, and hadn't noticed seen it for a couple years. Finding it reminded me of Grandpa, of how much my family means to me, and how great my wife is.

We exchanged presents, after cleaning up. Jae had found this great photo mat that holds multiple different sized photos. She used it to frame pictures of her, me, my parents, my siblings, and my Grandpa Gentry. It reminded me of Grandpa, of how much my family means to me, and how great my wife is.

Later, as we sat together reading and sipping mulled wine, we could see Ben and Neena's Christmas lights, still up on their fence. It was one of my best birthdays.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Next iPod question: Cases

My last iPod post started quite a comment thread on multi-ipod households. Here's the next frontier for me, since I can't afford that second iPod as stereo replacement: cases.

I need a case. That quickly became clear. I'm carying it around enough that I don't want one that leaves the screen and wheel accessible. I want to protect those parts as well. I'm thinking some like this.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

Raw

Yesterday I was in the far back yard, watering shrubs. A young man came stumbling down the alley. He said a mumbled hello to me, and then yelled something at me I didn't catch. Not odd in this neighborhood. "Another drunk in the alley," I thought. He didn't look like a vagrant. I figured he was a student still celebrating the New Year.

A couple minutes later he stumbled back and leaned up against our fence. His speech was hard to understand. I caught something about he shouldn't take it out on me, and something like, "...my cousin beat me down and back..." He hadn't been stumbling, he was limping. When he talked, it looked like there was blood on his teeth, and his mouth appeared swollen.

He leaned there for several minutes and kept apologizing. I kept forgiving him. I didn't ask if he wanted a ride to an emergency room, or if he wanted me to call the police. I kept watering the yard. He limped off.

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