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Last Refuge of the Incompetent
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I read an article that CA received transportation funds from the federal government a few days ago. The next day I noticed that a long-dormant road project had started up again. They have all sorts of equipment out there and I nearly drove off the road ogling all the big trucks and scoops and whatnot. I don't think my childhood obsession with big earth movers will ever falter. When I was a kid there was nothing more fun for me than digging a hole. It didn't have to actually be for anything, just digging it help all the pleasure. This may be the only sure evidence of my Mexican heritage. There was always the suspicion that I may have belonged to the Chinese astronaut my mom had a brief affair with in the early 70s. This was reinforced by the fact that my family was continually asking me to "do the Chinese eyes". Racists.

You know how sometimes, when you are sick, your body feels like it is expanding to fill the room? I kind of feel like that today. And sometimes my limbs feel out of synch with the rest of my body or with each other. Like I consciously have to move them independently. I don't know if it's just the mood I'm in or if I have some sort of weird dissociative disorder that Oliver Sachs would write about or if alien puppet masters have invaded my body, but it's weird. Could be too many video games.

I'm about 40% through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. While it's very interesting I feel the same way I felt when I was about that amount of the way through Anathem: Like I'm ready to read something else. That man's vocabulary is amazing but, Jesus, Too Many Words! Here are my top three worst things about reading:
1) Getting to the end of a beloved series.
2) Not having any more good books to read.
3) Having a crap ton of good books you want to read and wanting to read them NOW, but having to finish what you're on (or the few that you are on) first.
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I started lifting weights this morning, after years and years of really only doing cardio and calisthenic-type exercises. It felt good but reminded me of one reason I hate lifting: Other people. Some jackass was on the squat station for over 45 minutes, taking five minute breaks between each set. I even asked him if he was done after his first (presumably, I don't know, maybe he was there for hours beforehand) exercise but, no, he just kept dicking around. Anyway, I had a good workout. My friend Anna recommended this book, The New Rules of Lifting, and it has good explanations of not only exercises, but programs and the theory behind them. So, I'm using that to get started. I think I may have pulled something already, grrr.

In other news, yesterday was my "official" quit date for smoking. I'm taking Chantix again, this is the third round and, so far, the only one that has given me serious side effects. I got BAD stomach pains the first week I was on it but they seem to have subsided. The only thing I've experienced before was awesome dreams. This time I've had a few, just not as potent as before. I also feel like the drug is less effective than before, since the last two times I just quit smoking without really thinking about it. This time I still feel like smoking. I wonder if they changed the formulation or something. Oh well, I'm giving it a shot at least. Speaking of dreams I had an interesting one last night where Shan and I were about to be eaten by crocodiles but I woke up right before the crunching and munching began.

In totally unrelated news, is it true that people used to have to start airplanes by spinning the prop (and yelling "CONTACT!" of course)? I don't know why I was thinking about it but that just seems really dangerous. Didn't anyone get their arms chopped off doing that? What about cars? I seem to remember some old movies with cars being cranked from the front but that seemed more of like a fix than a standard procedure that you had to do to start it every time. Oh, I know what made me think of it, I was watching The Little Prince yesterday and it got me thinking about planes.

Oh yeah, school is going well. I was really concerned at the beginning that I had turned stupid or something because it took a lot of thought and study to get the concepts but everything is coming in just fine now. I think it was just the 15 year lapse since the last time I had taken math that was causing me grief. Now that my brain is back in math mode it seems better. I'm getting a 99% in the class, so it's all good. I hope I don't have the same issues going back after summer though. Honestly I'm getting a little burned out already. I do this every time I go to school, I get all excited at the beginning and then it peters out about mid term. I honestly can't remember taking a class that I didn't enjoy though. It's just that I get lazy.
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Good weekend! Lots of fun!

We met the lovely and talented jdoh and her friend Stephanie in St. Helena after work Friday for the "Cheers" wine tasting event. This was our first time going and I thought it was pretty neat. They close off a couple streets downtown and bring out a bunch of food vendors and then all the wineries set up a table in all the stores. So, you basically browse through the stores and grab a taste of wine and walk around downtown drinking and eating, oh, and there are multiple stages set up with musical acts. I think it's a great idea but there are also a couple downsides: The event costs $35 (usually, but we got free tix, big props to Stephanie!) and, if I'm paying for wine tasting, I want a decent sized pour, not a dribble, which is what I mostly got here. Granted, a lot of places were pouring reserve wines, but STILL, I need enough to taste, not just to coat the side of my glass. Also, going to events with over-privileged people like this one makes me realize how much I hate people. Here are a couple examples why: After someone gets their wine taste, they just stand in front of the table like idiots, sipping their wine, while there is a line of people waiting to get tastes. WTF? It's not wrong to ask the tasting staff questions, but move your dumb ass out of the way so other people can get their pours while you wax on about that pinot's lofty characteristics, or about how it tastes like vinegar, or whatever! More "getting in my way" douchebaggery was to be found outside, where clusters of shitheads would group up in the middle of the sidewalk as people tried to walk by. Hello? There are other people here. Like, LOTS of other people! Move to the side, shitheads! Both of these behaviors are typical at other wine events, like the Harvest Fair Gala, and I just don't get it. What is wrong with people?

Anyway, we still had fun, and had our wine and some tamales to boot! :) Afterward we came back to Santa Rosa and had dinner at Flavor, with a couple bottles of wine, and then finished off a The Zoo (of course!) Awesome times!

Saturday and Sunday were both spent killing millions of zombies interspersed with eating junk food and watching Pawn Stars, which is fascinating and hilarious. I've been playing lots of Left4Dead 2 lately, again, and I must say, I kick ass. I am SUPER excited about the release of Dead Island, which comes out in one month. It's got one of the most beautiful game trailers I've seen and the the campaign and multiplayer play look like a blast. The game uses the brand new Chrome Engine 5 and looks beautiful. The zombies have a multi-layered damage system so, instead of just hacking off a limb and seeing blood spatters on your screen, you can see the skin, muscle, and bone levels come apart independently. Oh yeah baby, it's going to be gory as hell! :)
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I started a trial of Rift last night, made it up to 10 or 11 as a warlock-based mage. It's pretty much exactly like WoW with a few differences. The rifts are big outdoor world events with an automatic raid invite if you're in the area and automatic loot distribution. I participated in a couple minor ones and it was a blast. Warhammer Online had this as well and it was one of the few things I liked about that game. The graphics in Rift are MUCH smoother and prettier than WoW, which is to be expected, since it's a newer game. The talent system in Rift makes for much more diverse possibilities in character creation although I hear that in the end game there are only a few viable builds. Still, I think it could be really fun in pvp since there are so many different combinations that there is pretty much a counter for every setup. I have read that the classes are quite imbalanced right now for pvp, with warriors > all but that happens from time to time in any MMO as they try to balance the classes (for all I know this may even be intentional, it wouldn't surprise me).

What I am really enjoying right now is exploring the world and it reminds me of what I loved about WoW was discovering the world with friends. Once I had seen everything and it became a gear grind the game got old quick. I may play Rift for a while if pvp is enjoyable (oh and you get xp from pvp, so NO twinks, yay!) There is still something about the WoW interface that has been better than any other MMO I've tried and I always have a hard time putting it in words. It's not quite responsiveness, but when you do something in WoW it 1)has a perfect relation to the key/mouse clicks and/or movements and 2) the feedback in the UI is synched perfectly to what's going on at the moment. I know that is really obscure but it's one of the things that makes WoW so immersive unlike other games. In WoW you can really get into *being* the toon unlike *playing* the toon (and I'm not talking about role playing either). Here's one example: When you are playing WoW, and you run your guy off a cliff, you actually feel that falling sensation because it's like *you* are falling. I have yet to feel that in any other game.
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I finished Swiss Family Robinson yesterday. Ever since we got the Kindles for Christmas I have been tearing through the classics since you can get a shitload for free at Gutenberg.org. I am all about survival stuff so it was a super fun read, despite all the inaccuracies and all the god talk. Just like in Robinson Crusoe everything is "providence this" and "providence that". I guess it's like the saying, there are no atheists in foxholes, neither are there castaways who are not continually gushing about the lord (except Tom Hanks). Of course, it was the lord who crushed your ship and stranded you on the island but, you know, he has his reasons. /rolleyes/ I started The Time Machine yesterday (it's super short) but I think I'll read The Tempest after. I want to ride this castaway theme for a bit longer. I tried to read it last year but it was on my phone and that was a pain in the ass, especially for Shakespeare.

We went camping out at the river from Thursday of last week 'til Monday and it was an absolute blast! Got lots of sun (but not too much sun), ate burritos and pizza and cheeseburgers, got into territorial pissings, had special guests from near and far away, floated around on ginormous inflatable things, got blitzed around the campfire, watched fireworks (twice!) and got to know new and old friends even better. We've got a couple more trips on the horizon but I'd like to get out even more. Seems like the summer started so late for us here that we haven't got our normal quota of camping in.
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I forgot my book at home today and I finished the internet so I am actually posting to LJ, OMG!

Fun weekend! I packed the truck on Thursday night so I could leave directly from work on Friday to go out to Bodega Bay and camp with about 12 other friends. We had expected rain so everyone came prepared and we set up a little tarp-city which kept us all warm around the fire. The alcohol flowed like water and everyone had a grand old time. But apparently it started getting a little windy around 3-4 in the morning and people started slowly packing it up. Any tent bigger than a few feet ended up collapsing in the wind and, even though ours did as well, I was able to sleep in 'til about 7 or so, when too much water started condensing on me from the tent fabric blown over on top of me.

Shan and I drove out to Bodega Head where she saw her first whale, ever! I figured we would just spend an hour or so out there and let the storm blow out. I really wanted to stay, especially since I accused my friends of being pussies when they suggested backing out after seeing the weather forecast. :p But then I saw big black clouds roll in and, about the same time, got a text from my buddy saying, "Get out while you can, HUGE storm system moving in on radar!" Heh, well that was all the impetus we needed so we headed back and packed it up. By the time I left the campsite was ankle-deep in water, so everything was just slopped into the truck willy-nilly. Got home, unpacked, showered and chilled for a while and then Jim and Anna (the organizers of the trip) had all the camping folks over to their house to continue the festivities. It was more awesomeness and they are great hosts, so thanks, if you are reading.

Yesterday we had pho and saw X-Men: First Class, which was good if not great. I love the idea of Prof X and Magneto sitting around in titty bars, I gotta say. :D


In other news I decided to finally build myself a new computer. I had been vacillating about buying one or building one, because building comes with a certain amount of possible risks and annoyances but I just couldn't justify the costs of the machine I wanted pre-built. Some of the parts started shipping last week but some are delayed a bit. I'm hoping to have it done in a few weeks. For those who geek out about this kind of thing, here is what I am building:
Read more...Collapse )
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In between getting my liberal studies degree, determining we are going to live in this condo forever and just wanting to enjoy the present as opposed to always thinking about the future - i.e. our long term plan to sail around the world, which is on indefinite hold - I decided to redo our patio. My main goals were to make our household more resilient in terms of providing more opportunities to feed ourselves, beautifying our home and, of course, creating a better party space. We had decided last year that we wanted laying hens and a space to garden so those were the main obstacles to overcome since our small patio was covered by a thrashed deck.

Over the last few months I tore out the deck, graded the soil and hauled in and shoveled by hand, literally, tons of rock, sand and stone to accomplish our goals. After grading and bringing in some drain rock and sand I covered the area with landscaping material which I graded again with crushed rock and sand. Then I skirted the whole area with 4x6s, built a big old raised bed and a containment area for the chicken coop. All of the lumber was recycled from the deck. I ran irrigation lines to the raised bed (set to water automatically on a timer) and we planted a bunch of kitchen garden vegetables that are doing well. I had 9,000 lbs of pavers delivered and installed them myself (oh my back!) Back in March Shan and I got three female chicks and have been brooding them in our garage. Shan bought a coop online that I set up in the yard (they LOVE it!) We're not *completely finished yet. I'm still going to build a picnic table and some shelving along the fence for our decorative plants, also from the deck scrap. Shan has been working on decorating the coop and patio. Since we're "urban homesteading" and we decided on going with Broadway musical heroines for our hen names (Audrey, Aldonza and Maria) Shan wanted to do a Dutch farm theme and named the coop "Breedeweg", the old Dutch name for Broadway (Even old New York was once New Amsterdam!) I'm going to install an automatic waterer for the hens and we're also going to hang some Dutch hex signs on the fence. I'm super happy with how it turned out and we've spent lots of time out there already, just hanging out watching the chickens, gardening and enjoying the awesome CA weather (with some homebrew, natch).

Here are a few images, plus a link to a Flickr set with most ofthe process detailedCollapse )
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Cool, finally an Android LJ app! Maybe I will start using lj more.
 

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


Edit: I selected friends privacy on the app and it posted it publicly (which also posts it to my FB). FAIL! I guess I will only be posting public entries via the app.

Edit 2: I made a second post using the app after changing the defaults to post friends only and it worked. I guess you can not change the default security settings on the fly. Still fail, but better than not being able to post securely.

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Current Location: Santa Rosa, Hoen Ave, 4740

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This is me right now!
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This week's episode of DSI (Drunk Scene Investigation) opens in the Man Cave, where the ashtrayis crammed with hundreds of butts, there is a half-empty bottle of Hennessy and 27 Firefox windows open. A trail of shoes and clothes lead to the living room, where half of a super carnitas burrito lies spurned, covered in a million ants. More clothes lead to the kitchen, where scores of empty bottles dead soldiers, in many varieties, litter the counters. Finally the clothing trail leads to the bedroom, where the sheets and pillows have been torn off th ebed and your humble narrator lies, head in hands, moaning "Pho or death!"

It's like a Beavis and Butthead version of a Family Circus cartoon.
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Democritus
I have seen the willow leaves dancing in the breeze.
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