Archive for May, 2005

Brrrbbbllleebbbllll

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Yah, I’m pretty drunk now right. I mean, drunk right now. Something like that.

I’ve been trying to make this something like a diary, ‘cept for publickish consumption, so you get some sorta here’s-where-i-am-right-now kinda feelin’.

So: I just got back from this party over at the Crockett Girls’™ place. I haven’t been hanging out with them nearly often enough lately. For those of you not familiar with the Crockett Girls, they’re these girls I met about 2 months after they graduated from Crockett High School, and spent the ensuing summer getting hella drunk with. They’re cool as hell, beautiful as all get-out, and their friends are even finer.

So, I haven’t been hanging with them much the last couple of years. Hell, one of them, Bree, even had a kid I haven’t seen yet. I shoulda been hanging out with them more. The fates have decreed that I shall not sleep with any of them, which, given that I’m 31 and the youngest of them hasn’t quite turned 21 yet, is probably, sort of moralistically speaking, (emphasis on probably) a good thing, but they’re still some of the most grown-up women I know, and hella interesting. I miss them and will hang out with them more, and will most likely [edited mofos. i control the horizontal. i control the vertical] who I met tonight. NEWayz, I went to Bree’s 21st birthday tonight and had a helluva time.

So me and Travis and Happie went to their party, and had a grand old time, and I got sloppy drunk and ended up back here typing the time I had into a textbox and resolving to:

a) Hang out with them more often, and

b) [edited this too, bitches]

See if I don’t.

Oh yah, consider this as close as you’re getting to a formal apology for those times I !#$%!#ed that one girl who was #$%!# !#$%!$^$%. I still don’t really regret it, but at least now I’ve got the good taste to pretend that I do. :)

Anime Update

Monday, May 30th, 2005

Well, Laughing Man finally made good with episode 21 of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 2nd Gig, and it’s frickin’ awesome! GITSSAC:2ndGig is turning out even better than the first season, which is already in competition for my favorite anime series of all time.

AnimeForever has started a new project, Trinity Blood, a futuristic post-apocalyptic Victorian-themed vampire-killer series. It’s a lot better than it sounds like it could possibly be. The main character hella reminds me of Vash the Stampede.

Other than TB, though, I haven’t picked up any new series lately. I’m still trying to find time to catch up on the new Ah! My Goddess series (laughing at me? !@#%$ you, buddy!). I also grab all the new Mahou Shoujo Tai episodes when they come out.

Just ‘cuz I’m in the mood to list them, current nominees for best anime series of all time are:

Cowboy Bebop
Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex
Trigun
Lain
FLCL
Samurai Deeper Kyo
Last Exile

Samurai Champloo, Maho Shoujo Tai, Paranoia Agent, Chobits … These are a few of my favorite things, as well, but the stuff above is a step above.

The Bearing of the Wheel

Monday, May 30th, 2005

The wheel bearing went out on Paul’s car, the left front bearing. I diagnosed this last Friday by jacking it up and noticing that the wheel wiggled a lot. This, along with a horrible, bone-crunchingly loud and brutal sound whenever said wheel rolled anywhere at all, pointed to the wheel bearing. I told him he’d have to take it to a dealer, because I didn’t have a press to get it out with, but he offered to buy me a press if I’d change the bearing. This actually turned out pretty good, although he had to sleep on my couch last night because I couldn’t get the old outer bearing race pressed out of the steering knuckle. I had a press, you see, but nothing to mate the press (which has a 3/4″ diameter shaft) to the bearing (which has a 2″ hole in the middle).

This morning I went to Sears and picked up a Big Ass Socket™, 3/4″ drive and I’m not even sure what the bolt size is, just that it sits nicely on the inner lip of the bearing I was trying to press out. I got it home and had the old race pressed out within 30 seconds, the new bearing pressed in a minute later, and the car re-assembled within an hour. Unfortunately, the bearing (which was so broken that it fell out in my hands when I took the knuckle off) appears to have damaged the CV-joint, which makes a horrible noise as well. So, I’m going to have to take it apart Wednesday to replace the half-shaft, but that’s about a 1-hour job with the tools I’ve got now.

A great way to spend your day(s) off, to be sure, but at least now I’ve got a 12-ton hydraulic H-frame shop press. I don’t know whether to hope that I have another use for it sometime, or to hope that I don’t. :)

Saturday I went to a party at a house that sat on the side of the Bull Creek valley, had 3 floors (5, actually, because they were all split level), and 5 little balconies which overlooked the pool at the bottom of the house and the valley below.

It was an awesome house, and a bad-ass party. My brother was spinning discs most of the night, even showing off some of his new turntablist stylings a bit. Later on the rest of the No Cents Crew (web site coming soon, as well as links to demo tracks) showed up, with Drunk Mark on the tables and Joe providing MC services until late in the morning. I passed out on a couch in the kitchen around 2, until we left at about 4. There wasn’t an ugly woman at that party, and there were a lot of women at that party. There was this one girl, Lindsey–I think she was somebody or other’s girlfriend–she had crazy beautiful blue-flecked eyes. They were striking in about the same way that a bat upside the head is. She chose the kegs for the party. She likes amber beers. That’s just cool.

I will not buy a new pack I will not buy a new pack I will…

Friday, May 27th, 2005

I took the foretrex back today. The guy at the store was cool and didn’t give me any guff. I spent the next hour looking over their selection of daypacks and other small backpacks. I really want one. Really. The problem is that I currently have, sort of, two packs. One is a really small canvas pack I got six years ago as schwag at a librarian’s convention in chicago. It’s maroon and says “Endeavor Information Systems” on it, and can carry water and food for one person for a day, maybe. It has no support in it at all. My other pack is identified only as “Sojourner” on a label stitched onto the back. The fastener on one of the shoulder straps is broken, and the lower portion of the strap was tied to the upper portion by my brother when he borrowed it for a trip to New Mexico. It’s got a couple of polyethylene stays and a thick backpad and hip belt. It was probably made in China and I picked it up at some random gear store for maybe $50 about 5 years ago.

It’s pretty ugly, with useless straps and ice tool hooks hanging off of it, some of them broken. It’s an old-style clamshell pack, rather than a top-loader, and has small elastic bottle-holders on each side that don’t fit my water bottle. It’s terminally uncool, and I lust after a newer pack, ideally a Marmot Eiger 25 or Gregory G-Pack, which is on sale for $119.

The only problem with all of this is that I’m fairly broke, and although I could, if it were really necessary, lay down $90-$120 for a pack, the fact of the matter is that my hiking pack, while uncool and in many ways inconvenient, is a pretty comfortable pack to carry a lot of crap around in, and I’m hard core enough that the little pack doesn’t bother me at all when I’m carrying only a couple quarts of water, phone, camera, shirt, and food.

So I will not buy a new pack. Right now.

Guerrilla Hiking

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

I’ve been looking for a while for a pair of shoes that I could walk into water with and walk home without a big soggy 5lb. mess wrapped around my feet. I finally found what I was looking for–Merrell Waterpro Ultra-sport. I’ve already got a good pair of sandals, which are hella nice in the water, but the fact of the matter is that a sandal doesn’t wrap your foot, and can’t provide as much toe protection or climbing ability as an enclosed shoe. I spent a good bit of last summer walking in and out of Gus Fruh with a broken toe, and I can tell you that it’s not any fun at all in a shoe that lets your foot slip and slide around. Aside from that, sandals are heavy, and–this is debatable–sometimes seem to leave my feet sorer at the end of a long day of hiking. So I definitely wanted a closed shoe that was impervious to water. This one has mostly waterproof materials, except for some neoprene around the back of the heel, and it has drain vents at the lowest part of the toe, which is nice and thick and provides good rock protection. There’s even a kind of compression strap system that can be used to adjust the shoe fit. Unfortunately, this ups the shoe maintenance, because if it’s too lose, your heel comes down on the inside of the footbed and slopes inward, which makes the shoe feel awkward and starts to hurt pretty quickly.

After a good 9 mile hike yesterday, I can definitely confirm that the Waterpro is da bomb. It’s a shoe that the manufacturer claims is designed for canyoneering, which pretty much describes greenbelt hiking to a tee. It certainly did the job for me. In search of a way to get to the Greenbelt without taking two buses, I looked at some satellite imagery and noticed that the far end of Westlake boulevard appeared to dead end into wilderness crossed by various tracks. When I arrived on-site, however, it was posted by the Austin water department as a water quality management area. Noting a few nice looking trails on the other side, I snuffaluffagussed and later found myself walking around through some random chaparral, including one large clearing that had the biggest damned prickly pear cacti (don’t ask me the correct name) I’ve ever seen. They were large. I followed various trails, dirt access roads, water drainages, and other fairly clear walking paths westward for a while until I ran out of luck and trail, at which point I started hiking cross country, which was pretty hard core spikey chaparral. I most certainly did not cross any private property, no matter what anybody may tell you.

After some while looking for downhill slopes, I found one that got progressively steeper, and followed it to a creekbed, which I knew had to lead, in turn, to Barton Creek. This is where the shoes started to earn their pay, and they did a pretty good job of it, giving me significantly better traction that I’ve had with most other shoes during some significant vertical scrambles over rocks and sometimes dirt. They’ve got some pretty deep lugs that are good for catching the edges of rocks, and some pretty soft rubber that grabs like hell. I’m sure it’ll be smooth as a baby’s ass in six months, but for the moment, it makes life easy.

After some while of hiking down and around the creekbed, which kept running into these pretty stunning-looking sinkholes that did not at all lend themselves to photography (I need to get a wider-angle lens), I came to a little wooden bridge, and, climbing onto it, found myself on a very Austin Parks and Recreation-looking trail. 40 minutes from the end of the road to the start of the belt. I’ve got to find something faster, especially since the place you get dumped isn’t all that convenient to anywhere.

I suspected that I’d find the 360 access and bridge to my left/north, and wasn’t disappointed. After setting a waypoint at the trail head (see the foretrex bit below), I headed south and hiked around the bend of the river until I found myself under the Mopac bridge that spans the greenbelt. I never realized how humungously huge these bridges are until I stood underneath them. They’re ludicrously big. Amazing.

I went up to the Mopac access to set a waypoint, then headed toward Twin falls. There was quite a bit of water there, so I chilled for a while before heading down to Sculpture, where there was plenty of water. I didn’t get to set foot in it, though, because no sooner had I arrived than Travis called to tell me he was at Twin. I ran most of the way back and made it in 16 minutes.

I also had a Garmin Foretrex 201 with me on this trip, but it’s likely to be back at the store for a couple of reasons by the time you read this: mostly I just can’t afford it right now, but it also runs on an integrated lithium battery, which makes it pretty useless on a multi-day hike, which I hope to need it for. Also, I’d like something I can download topos to.

Finally, on my way out via Mopac, I discovered I’d lost my phone, and had to walk all the way back to Twin to get it. Some guy named John Paul had found it and made me write a haiku about it in his book of poems from random people. I wrote:

I lost my cell phone
On a big rock at Twin Falls
John Paul found it–thanks!

I should have written “On a big sunny rock at Twin Falls”, to reference summer, but I didn’t think about it until later. Hindsight’s always 20/20 I suppose.

I was more in it for the hike than the pics, but I took a few.

I gotta get the hell out.

Monday, May 16th, 2005

I can’t sit in cubicle at Dell watching my life end one email at a time. I don’t think I can sit in a cubicle anywhere anymore watching the minutes tick away. I love computers, but I think I need to do something else.

I made a decision while I was walking around Vegas and thinking about my life that I was going to find a new job, and that it was going to be a major departure from anything I’ve done before. After I made that decision I felt the same sort of calm certainty I felt five years ago when I decided that I was going to throw a barbeque party in a park and move to Austin. It’s going to happen, and pretty soon.

Now I just have to figure out exactly what and how.

Las Vegas

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Friday morning I shaved my head, and Friday afternoon I left for Las Vegas. I hadn’t ever been there before. I had a pretty damned cool time.

First impressions: it’s a town full of pretty boys and pretty girls. Everything is really big. Everything is also kind of fake, at least on the new portion of the strip, but it doesn’t really matter, because they’re good fakes. This goes for the people and the buildings.

Gambling: bad idea, at least for me. Other people win. I lose. Over and over. Of course, I only gambled, like, 30 bucks, because I’m broke as all hell, but it all just sort of instantly disappeared, a quarter at a time.

On Friday night I just walked up and down the strip looking at stuff. I had a hell of a time. I made a “wrong” turn and ended up having to walk all the way around Ceasar’s Palace and the Bellagio to get back to my hotel. Those places are huge. It took me forever, or, at least, about an hour–and I walk three miles in an hour, generally, although my feet were kind of sore, so maybe I was walking slower. I took a lot of pictures, but not many of them came out. Night photography without a tripod is hard.

Saturday during the day I just walked up and down the strip, taking more pictures. I saw the water show at the Bellagio, which so much more impressive in person than it is on film. I never really got the sense that it was as huge as it is. It’s really huge. And set to music. At the end, the jets go at least 400 feet in the air, and sound like thunder.

Saturday night we went to Body English at the Hard Rock Casino. We’d paid $100 per head a long time ago just to get in the door, and there was a three bottle minimum, liquor-wise. The bottles were $350 each. So, all told, this was pretty much the only thing I did that cost any money, and, luckily, I’d already paid a good portion of that, and the rest was loaned to me until I got paid.

I don’t think I’d pay that much money to go to a club again, although I probably spend $60-$80 on an average night out (s’been so long I can’t really remember. :P ), and my share of this night was $210, which isn’t too bad. All in all though, I’d say it was worth it. For starters, we got walked past hundreds of people standing in line, down an elevator to our own private table, where a ludicrously good-looking waitress laid out our three bottles (Crown Royal, Grey Goose, and Patron Silver) in boxes full of ice, with decanters of Sprite, Coke, and Cranberry juice, a tray full of rocks glasses, a iced tray full of shot glasses, a bowl of limes, and a bucket of ice to put in the glasses. Then she made the first few rounds for us. It was very nice.

The club itself was pretty damned nice. we were sitting in an elevated area behind the very nice 12′x12′ glassed-in DJ booth, which was itself elevated about 12 feet above the dance floor. The music was by a house DJ and DJ AM, and was a bunch of random hip-hop mixed pretty much 1-for-1 with stuff like Michael Jackson, Guns n’ Roses, Sublime, and various 80’s rock acts. Not all that terribly memorable, but nice to dance to.

A bunch of guys from San Francisco kept going on and on about how good a dancer I was (no, they weren’t gay–otherwise they’d know good dancing when they saw it. :P ). Women studiously avoided eye contact.

We had eight people and three liters of liquor. This can be a bad combination. Most of us got away with our dignity intact, if a little stumbled, but Dan and Paul disappeared relatively early on in the night after chugging rocks glasses full of Patron, and were later found passed out in the hotel room. Paul doesn’t remember any of it. ^_^

Sunday I went to check out the Venetian, which has an indoor canal with gondola rides. They wanted $15 for a ride, so I passed. Didn’t really seem worth it, although you do get serenaded by the Gondoliers.

So, then we came home, and that’s everything that happened on that trip that I’m admitting to. You can check out the pictures in the gallery.

So, I got this email…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

…from my friend Lanie, who I haven’t seen since the last time I rode the wayback machine. It was a forward about the Real ID act. Good to know she’s not dead in a ditch somewhere, anyway. I miss ya, Lanie.

I do a bad job of keeping in touch with people, as anybody likely to read this blog knows. Still, if ya ain’t gonna be relevant day to day, I don’t have a lot of time to spend staying in touch. I get up at 6 in the morning to go to work. I get there at 7, then sit around until my shift starts at 7:45. I get off at 5:45 PM, and then wait around until 6:30, when my ride leaves. I get home at 7:00 or 7:30, by which time I’m hungry, so I eat dinner until 8:00. Then I write a blog entry or do some career research and watch the Daily show from the day before (have I ever mentioned that DVRs are the coolest thing since sliced bread?). That gets me to 9:00 PM. I spend the next hour cleaning or washing dishes or clothes, then I take a shower and get in bed at about 11:30, so I can get up six and a half hours later and do the whole damned thing over again. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything.

I want one!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Check out this story about Savannah cats at NYT. A Savannah is a new breed of cat, a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. They’re big, and really pretty. I wish I could have one. They’re like $3500 for kittens, though, or $1500 for grown, infertile males. I don’t think I’ll be getting one any time soon. :)

Oh well. Maybe in a few years. Besides, I’ve got Heihachi already. How could any cat be cooler than Heihachi?

Hamilton Pool pictures.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Hamilton Pool is a county park and nature preserve a little west of Austin. It’s a box canyon with a collapsed north end that forms this little grotto where Hamilton creek falls over a huge rock overhang into a beautiful green pool. I took some pictures when I went out there with my friends Jay and Julie, and since I’m a picture-posting fool lately, you get to look at them too.