On the Move

I saw kids on the corner last Saturday night, wearing bags on their heads.
I saw kids on the corner last Saturday night, wearing bags on their heads.

Tomorrow morning I’m hopping on a plane for Nagoya, just shy of three years after getting engaged in Tokyo, and just over a week after breaking off that engagement near LAX. While I’m in Japan, I’ll enter my thirtieth year here on Earth, my final year of trustworthiness. I guess my hopes of making my first $10 million before 30 are shot. :-/

I had the pleasure of reading some of my work for the Graduate Reading Series at CSUN last weekend, and I think it went pretty well. I could barely resist pointing out to the audience that the piece I read is a work-in-progress, and that there’s probably going to be a lot more to it at some point. I refrained, however, from trying to apologize for myself. I’m still waiting to hear about the TA program, at which point I’ll know whether I’m finishing CSUN this spring or the next.

Finally, I’ll be flying back to Illinois on Christmas Eve to visit with friends and family, and to collect all the countless books I left in Urbana three years ago. I’m even planning to get my own place so I have somewhere to store them. But then, maybe if some gets me some Nook-e for Xmas, I won’t need as much room? Come on, Santa. I’ve been good.

Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’

Last Friday I went with some friends down to San Pedro, where we hopped on a boat and went out into the ocean for some evening fishing. It was my first time on the ocean, which was quite a pleasant experience. It was also my first time fishing since my early teenage years, and I can assure you that there is quite a difference between fishing on the ocean and fishing in a small Midwestern pond. Once I got the hang of it, I began reeling ’em in. I managed to catch six fish total, two sculpin and four halibut. One of the sculpin was too small so I had to throw it back. I had the other filleted on the way back to shore and ate it for dinner Sunday night. The fish was tasty and the fishing trip was a lot of fun.

In other news, I recently stumbled upon the following quote from Alec Baldwin:

“What Vick did is, obviously, senseless and reprehensible. But I believe Vick, as a wealthy and talented athletic superstar who performs his job out in the open before crowds of amped-up and highly opinionated fans, suffers an unfair disadvantage as compared to, say, the heads of a meatpacking plant or the directors of a medical research lab where animals are suffering the cruelest imaginable abuses behind walls and doors that remove them from our sight and, therefore, judgments.”

Alec Baldwin expressing his views on the Michael Vick case in the Huffington Post.

While on one hand I tend to agree with the spirit of what he’s saying here, he does seem to oversimplify a bit, lumping arguably legitimate causes (food and medical care) in with much more difficult to defend practices, namely a barbaric entertainment ritual and senseless gambling. Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting topic.

And finally, via greenlagirl I found this fascinating site that serves as irrefutable evidence that democracy is a farce: MAPLight.org. Enjoy!

Why I Don’t Blog

the javajunkee with a goatee
the javajunkee with a goatee

I guess I’m going to have to just get back in the habit of posting random pictures and videos I find on the Internet here, because at least then I’d be doing something with this blog. I’m starting to realize that I like tinkering with things and figuring out how they work more than I like to use them, in many cases. Setting up WordPress on my site, finding a theme, adding plugins, modifying the look/feel… that was all so much more entertaining than writing a blog post from time to time.Then again, maybe I just don’t feel like talking about my life, for fear of sounding self-absorbed. Because I’m totally worried about that. By the way, here’s a picture of how I look with a goatee (in case there were any doubts about my self-absorption):

Anyway, in terms of what’s been going on with me lately, I’ve been staying pretty consistently busy at work. That, and every weekend I have either service obligations of some sort, or various types of gatherings/activities with friends. It’s all pretty enjoyable, but leaves little time for blogging. One event I went to recently was a “Blogger Prom.” It was a pretty cool event, packed with some of the most well-known bloggers (and twitterers) in LA. I felt shamefully outclassed, not only because my version of dressing like the it was the 1980s was to wear a suit that fit like I hadn’t worn it since the ’80s, but also because I’ve gotten to be about as prolific with my twitter account as I am with my blog. Nevertheless, I had a great time with T doing a review on how to hack clash of clans, and I even got to hang out and chat with Moye and meet her friend Lisa. They handed out raffle tickets at the event for drawings that were held periodically throughout the event for various types of door prizes. (Pauly Shore even called out some of the winning numbers.) Those who didn’t win any prizes were free to turn in their tickets at the end of the night for a pretty awesome goody bag. Somehow I managed to misplace my ticket at some point in the evening – I think I tossed it out with a napkin. I turned out every pocket of my three-piece suit at least a handful of times trying to find that damned ticket before finally giving in to the fact that it was gone. I cursed the fact that I seem to be prone to losing things (lost my cell phone and digital camera last year, and had my GPS unit stolen, among other things), and went home goody-bag free. T assured me she’d split some of the goodies with me to make up for my loser-ishness.

Photo concept stolen from Moye. Along with arrow.
Photo concept stolen from Moye. Along with arrow.

Anyway, that was a few weeks back. Since then, I went on a trip to Columbus, Ohio, for work (where I got to see Yuka), and went on a few other local outings. Last week I went on two LA-specific outings. For starters, my friend M has been trying for a while to get me and some of our other coworkers to come along to a Flypoet event in Inglewood. While it is a shade of difference from the type of poetry we typically workshop in my graduate studies, or the stuff my former coworker Kim Young writes, it was still rather impressive. As T observed, sometimes spoken word artists strive to make up for what they lack in poetic quality with volume of delivery. The acts we saw last week were thankfully not those types of artists. They were all quite skilled, and I liked some more than others. I especially had a fun time with some of my coworkers on the ride back to the Valley from Inglewood, laughing and joking about the “My Visit to Inglewood” essay I could write as a small-town boy from the Midwest about the scandalizing experiences I had. (And while it was a good laugh at the time, I can’t for the life of me remember what happened that night that would qualify, but you get the picture.)

Next up was the Dodger game I went to with 50 of my closest friends on Friday night. At least, that’s what it felt like. One of my coworkers looked into what sorts of group rates were available for a trip to Dodger Stadium, and it worked out that we could get tickets for $25 a piece to sit in the “all-you-can-eat” section of the outfield. The game was rather entertaining, as baseball games go, and the company was nice. A couple of friends and I managed to put down 7 Dodger Dogs over the course of 12 innings. We were pretty proud of ourselves.On our journey across the vast parking lot near the end of the game, we came across one of our coworkers who’d left during the 9th inning with her son and granddaughter. They were still looking for their car. They described the vehicle to the handful of us, and we fanned out in our paths toward our van. Just a few rows up, I spotted her car almost as though I’d known right where to look. I called her cell phone and did my best to navigate her to where I was, i.e.: “I’m in a row of cars… just walk past the other rows of cars, and turn left when you get to the row I’m in…”

As we rode back to the office in the van, one of my coworkers was commented that he was amazed that I’d found the car so easily. I jokingly explained that my knack for finding things that belong to other people must somehow be related to my aptitude for losing things of my own. I didn’t bother to mention it, but in the last year and a half I’ve lost at least one pair of sunglasses, a digital camera, a smartphone, a netflix dvd, and probably some other things I can’t think of at the moment. (I’m inclined to include my GPS unit that was stolen out of my car in that list… but I had help with that one.)

Once we arrived back at the office and each got into our own vehicles and rode home, I was pleased with the evening we’d had at the ball game. I may not be a sports fan, but I am able to enjoy and appreciate games from time to time.I walked into my house around half past midnight and set down my things in the kitchen, only to see a reminder note that the cleaning lady was coming the following morning, and that I’d need to leave my share of the payment – $20 – on the kitchen table. I realized I didn’t have enough cash with me, so I went back to my car and went to the ATM down the street. This apple didn’t fall far from the tree, you might say, and since my mom is a crazy cat lady, I couldn’t help but be preoccupied with the stray cat wandering across the parking lot as I went through my transaction at the ATM. I was having off-and-on success getting the cat’s attention, but it simply stared at me like I must be out of my mind, and I wasn’t able to coax it in my direction at all. Oh well – it was late and I was about ready for bed.

On the way back to the house, I noticed that I didn’t have my phone. Hmm. Must’ve left it in the kitchen with my backpack. I got home and looked around the kitchen, and wasn’t able to find my phone. I searched my car. No phone. I went back to the ATM. No phone. I came home and searched the kitchen. Still no phone. I ransacked my car again. Still no phone. I made my third trip of the evening to the stupid ATM, and still no phone.

At this point, I was kicking myself in the ass repeatedly over the stupid “finding other people’s stuff and losing my own” comment. My blackberry had been a (costly) replacement phone to make up for the last smartphone I lost, back in November of last year. What was I going to have to do to replace this one?

I resigned myself to the fact that I must’ve left it at the ATM and that someone picked it up, and hoped that the person who snagged it would be an honest person. It occurred to me to check out where the phone was using Google Latitude, and I could see from the most recent signal that it was somewhere in Chatsworth, but not at the ATM. Then it occurred to me to use Google Voice, the service through which I recently scored a new SoCal phone number, to send a text to my phone asking the finder to please email me. Then I went to sleep.

Lo and behold, when I woke the next morning, I had an email in my inbox asking where I could meet to retrieve my phone. Hooray for honest people!! I picked up my phone shortly after noon, and rewarded the finder with a $20 Starbucks gift card (cash would’ve seemed so profane… but now that I think about it, so does supporting Starbucks).

The moral of the story is, if you want me to hold onto something for you, I’d recommend that you staple it to my hand.And with that – I will strive to write shorter blog posts in the future, in hopes that doing so might increase the speed with which I get them posted.

One World

I’m back in Illinois for Memorial Day weekend, seeing family and trying to get some much-needed relaxation coming off a mind-numbing semester. Yuka and I have managed to enjoy each other’s company a bit, and we even got each other some nice bracelets, for the hell of it. Just today I got my grades back, a B+ for each class, putting my semester GPA at 3.30, and my cumulative GPA at 3.55. It’s definitely nice to know that some of the stress I’ve put myself through over the last few months has paid off nicely.

Being back in late May has been a very different experience from my usual November/February visits. I’d forgotten how green, and how humid, the Midwest can be. I got to spend an afternoon lounging around the patio at Espresso Royale with Wes, which was great. Today I went down to Springfield and spent a few hours hanging out with my brother Bob, which was also very nice, and then drove to Peoria where I’ll meet up with Esti. It was a little strange driving through downtown Peoria and then into the vicinity of the Bradley University campus, as it brings back some memories of the two years I spent here going to school, nearly a decade ago now. Funny how much things can change, and how much they stay the same.

Tonight I’ll make an obligatory appearance at a campout that’s taking place just outside of C-U, tomorrow I’ll hang with Yuka and some friends who have also moved on from the U of I, Monday I’ll hang with the McCabe clan for Memorial Day, and Tuesday I’ll be back on my way to the land of endless pavement. Life is good.

My Featured Photos

Featured Photos
Featured Photos

On the top left of my main blog page, you can now find a link to my Featured Photos page, where there’s a Flash-powered viewer that displays some featured photos from my Picasa gallery. As I take new photos, I’ll rotate them into the mix and rotate older ones out, so it’ll be worth checking back occasionally if you have nothing better to do with your life…

Where is my mind?

you know, they say that the first thing to go with age is … uh … what was it? this weekend, while visiting a friend in the quad cities, I picked up a twist-tie off the coffee table and held it up. I inspected it, telling my friend, “I remember taking this off of something…gosh, what was it?” after a few minutes, I remembered that the twist-tie had been wrapped around an ethernet cable we’d taken out ten or fifteen minutes earlier so that I could plug the laptop into his ethernet router. then, tonight, I picked up a movie to take over to my friend’s house to watch. I picked up Troy, as it was released on DVD this week. just moments before pulling into my friend’s driveway, I realized that I’d seen the movie in the theater back in May. finally, I came home after the movie, just after 1am, the rain coming down heavily enough that I had to ford a few small creeks on springfield avenue to reach my apartment building. I rushed inside and set my things down before heading back outside to call for the little boy. I’d let him out earlier in the evening because he’s going through a difficult time with hormones and whatnot, and he needs to have the opportunity to meet the girls in the neighborhood. as soon as I stepped out of my building, hearing the door slam behind me, I placed my hand on the left-side back pocket of my jeans. no keys. the door remains locked at all times. I went to the car, which I never lock, and retrieved my umbrella, and began to call for the little boy. after a moment, I realized it was silly to try to find him, because I wouldn’t really be able to get him inside. I pointed this irrationality out to myself aloud before returning to my car to find tools for breaking into my own building. I found a small swiss army knife, a paperclip, a pair of sunglasses, and a pen. (yes, I was a fan of MacGyver as a child). I tried the swiss army knife first, to no avail. the blade was too short to reach the latch. all the while, I’m standing with my umbrella sort of resting on my head and my mini-mag flashlight balanced in my mouth. next up, paperclip. I bent it around and tried to wedge it behind the latch to pry it open. again, no luck. I decided to walk around the building for a moment, inspecting all of the windows of the warehouse attached to the back of the storefront downstairs from my apartment. many of the windows are broken, perhaps one would offer easy access so that I could make my way into the building and get back into the apartment. no luck. the warehouse is apparently filled with a surplus of spare lumber, and each of the windows is well-blocked by stacks of wood. I returned to the door. I took the sunglasses from my pants pocket and removed one of the earpieces. the second year running that my stocking-stuffer sunglasses from mom at christmas haven’t lasted the month of january. I did manage to get a picture of myself in both pairs, though…but better luck next year on having glasses in february. anyway, I bent the earpiece into a small loop and fidgeted with the latch some more. the umbrella wobbled back and forth on my head, pouring water alternately on my toes and my back. finally I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to reach the other side of the door without getting a little wet. I closed the umbrella and stuffed it, along with all the rain it was holding, into my other back pocket. I fidgeted with the door some more, and just as I was beginning to lose hope and divert my attention, Bingo! the latch slid out and I pulled the door open! I made my way up the stairs to my apartment, victorious and soaked. I took off the sopping clothes and hung them wherever they might dry and slipped into my dry detox scrub pants. the little girl was happy to get all of tonight’s attention, given the absent little boy, but I trust that he’s resourceful enough to find a dry spot somewhere in the neighborhood to pass the night. and if not, wasn’t he trying to get himself a little wet in the first place?

I’m Back!!

the trip to South Carolina was a great time…really relaxing. usually I figure that with a long trip and stuff to do and that sort of thing, vacations usually end up being more stressful than real life, but this wasn’t quite like that. I’m sure attitude has something to do with it, and I went down there thinking that I didn’t really give a damn what happened. so it was all fun, and I got to see some good friends that I haven’t seen in a while, and hang out doing nothing, drinking lots of caffeine. I’m usually very strongly anti-energy drinks, because they just seem like watered-down sugary replacements for coffee, but I tried this stuff called Bawls, and it was actually decent. it was like a version of seven-up that actually tastes good, with a bunch of caffeine and guarana. they also make a version of bawls that is completely sugar-free, so I could dig that. anyway…I was thinking about it today, and I don’t really make much, if any, mention of music on this website…so today I’ve been listening to Wilco’s new album, “A Ghost Is Born,” which is really rockin. anyone who knows me knows that I’m a hopelessly hopeless Modest Mouse fan, and I’ve been listening to their new album, Good News For People Who Love Bad News for the last few weeks, and I like it a lot, too. there are a lot of times when I’ll sit down to write and play all of the other Modest Mouse CDs on random, (Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks, The Moon and Antarctica, The Lonesome Crowded West, and This Is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About), and I really get into just about every song in the playlist. so when I heard the new CD for the first time, I was a little skeptical, as it has a different sort of sound…not to mention the fact that they’re actually getting playtime on the radio, which can be a bad sign for a band…but I must say that I’m still quite impressed with their work. props.

Road Trip

I’m getting on the road for South Carolina first thing tomorrow morning…we’re going to count it as my summer getaway, seeing as how I haven’t done a damned thing this summer, aside from perhaps visiting the quad cities once or twice. I’m going with jscrilla.com and my insurance agent, so I’ll both be angling for better rates and trying to nag scrilla into posting more stuff on doublemuse. and when I get back: two days until fall semester begins! the jury’s still out on how I feel about that…but as I might’ve said before, at least it’ll prompt me to finish some more stories. have a good weekend, everyone!