Kicking Off 2012 with Dread

I don't usually like to post about anything personal, but I don't think there's a reason not to mention that my grandmother passed away the other morning.  I'm not going to say anything about that except that I'm very sad about it, but that sadness is mitigated in knowing that she had lived a very long, very rich life.

Needless to say, my brother and I are heading back east (New York) for the funeral.  This is where the dread kicks in.  I've managed to avoid flying anywhere since before Plan C was born, almost two years now.  This isn't one of those flights you can pretend is almost over the whole time, either; it's something like 7 hours from Portland to DC, then there's another hour-long hopper from DC to NYC.  I finally managed to break through my apprehension a little bit this morning and just try to be rational about it, but the fact remains: waking up at 4:45am tomorrow and spending all day doing the thing I fear and loathe the most in the world is bumming me out.

At least I never gave a shit about new year's, anyway, since I seriously hope I'm well asleep by midnight.


Further Notes and Observations

  1. Plan C loves to play with the Maglite.  One must be very, very careful while one's baby plays with a Maglite.  
  2. Speaking of my kid, there was an explosion of adorable last night when C + J brought over their tiny little girl (P: now 7 months old) and the two babies babbled at each other and stole each other's toys.  
  3. I unfairly got a pretty bad hangover from the visit and couldn't sleep.  I ended up curled up on the couch in the basement at about 5:00am.  To repeat an old refrain: insomnia is proof that humans are defective.
  4. I work hard for the money, so hard for it honey, so you better treat me right.
  5. Band practice was solid last week.  I wrote a song that T suggested be titled "Sleepless in Cialis," but I think I'm going to opt for "Entry-level Position."
  6. The slog on the house continues. Right after I finish this, I'm going to try to sort some shit in the basement (i.e. where I'm sitting right now.)
  7. My class is done.  Could be the last one for a long time.  We'll see.


Honestly: This is Bullshit




A Little Braggadocio

Sorry, but here it is:

MY NEW HOUSE IS AWESOME.  It has floors!  It has a yard!  It has garbage and recycling service!  It has space!  It has gas heat and a gas stove (new oven, new furnace!)  This morning I took the Max* in to work and it was basically door-to-door service from the stop two blocks from my house to the stop one block from the office.  I even have that which I have dreamed of for so long: a desk in the basement with a desktop computer hooked up (via a network cable, not wireless) to the interwebs.

My friends are a stalwart crew.  We had 14 people materialize to help with the move on Saturday and the whole thing was done in 4.5 hours, including refueling and returning the Uhaul.  We had so many people helping that we had bottlenecks loading up the truck and (on the other end) loading up the house.  Thanks, guys.

In addition, I am pleased to report that Plan C loves the new digs and that Pesto is happily running bunny sprints between the dining and living rooms.

If only me-living-in-Santa-Cruz could see me now...

* To non-Portlanders: the Max is the municipal light rail.  It is a speedy whooshing train of efficient transportationing.



We're moving into the house tomorrow.  I have to drive yet another gigantic truck, although this time it's only across town, not from central California to the Oregon - Washington border.  Pics and crap to follow.


Striking Observations

Let's begin, shall we?
  1. First of all, I hate daylight saving's time.  I don't care if you're springing forward or falling back, it's always a bunch of bullshit.  I have a hard enough time with the whole sleeping concept without arbitrary agriculturally-inspired clock maneuvers.  
  2. My rap name is henceforth Duquan the Captivator.  Take heed, sucker MCs.
  3. I really need to e-mail my scattered grad school homies.  I miss them and would like to hear about the goings on.
  4. It's Audit Week '11 at work!  Today went well enough.  
  5. But then the bus broke, so I sat in the cold and graded midterms until the next one came.  Then I was 10 minutes late to my own class and had to walk in, put down my bag, and start in on the Weimar republic and the rise of fascism...a-just a-like a-that.
  6. Plan C is WALKING!  Today she was pretty much charging back and forth giggling up a storm.  Holy cow, it's pretty cute!


Brief Retrospective

Kiddo's still asleep, although I doubt for much longer.  A few weeks ago she spontaneously abandoned her second nap of the day, so now we're down to one little respite from around 11am - 12 or 1pm (depending on how merciful she's being...) 

I was thinking about work, about how tough it's been carrying the burden of preparing the company for the big security audit (on top of teaching), and I found myself thinking back to grad school.  For six years I slept in until 8am almost every day and just kind of drifted from seminar to discussion section to the library and back home.  I worked faster but much less hard than almost all of my friends/colleagues in my programs.  I broke out in a terrified sweat every time I was forced to speak a few words of mangled French to anyone.  I wrote my dissertation at lightning speed and, looking back especially, the result was pretty half-assed. 

It's a relief to look back on it now and know 100% that it doesn't matter; I did end up a competent teacher, so if some twisted path leads me back that way in the future I feel all set to return there.  It will never matter, though, that my French sucks and I got bored trying to "master the literature" and just played video games most of the time.  In so many words, grad school amounted to a mostly-fun and very interesting way to spend my mid-late 20s.

Before I went to grad school, during Portland V. 1.0 for B and me, I resented it enormously when my job made me work harder than I thought was reasonable.  The company I ended up at was truly awful, but I also just hated that I was expected to do anything beyond my 8 hours a day for them.  Now, it's a lot easier to reconcile.  The thing is, I haven't done this before, worked really hard and made (some) money and bought a house and so on...it's kind of neat to try it out and I am beyond excited to finally get to move into the damn place in a few weeks.

As ever, no point to speak of here, just that despite the intense exhaustion and the kind of bleak feeling I have after weeks of this nonstop, I'm still happy about how things played out and the decisions I made.  So: yay for me.


Haters Gonna Hate

I've been eating a lot of kale.

Just a note on one of the best shows: True Blood.  It's this one show about vampires that is on HBO and it also on the, uh, internet.  B and I finally got around to watching the finale of the latest season last night and it was splendid good fun.  It's like a really smart teenager made up a funny show and hired incredibly good-looking actors for it (case in point: "Eric Northman," above, and "Jessica," not pictured.)

Thing is, lots of smart and media-savvy internet people like my homie K really hate True Blood.  There are whole smart, media-savvy blogs devoted to hating on True Blood.  That is good!  Because their intense hatred somehow only makes the show more...succulent and robust.  I do wonder a little if they're missing the point:

They think that it's a show that's kind of tongue in cheek but fails and is just stupid.  BUT what if it's a show that is SO tongue in cheek that it knows the first layer of irony is just silly but that the SECRET layer of irony makes the shit work?!  

Anyway, here's to True Blood.  I recommend that you and an attractive person get together with a few bottles of wine and watch it. 

My recommendations are not to be taken lightly.



You know what's boring?  Talking about how tired you are.  Too bad, suckers.

On the days I teach, I rock a 12-hour day from when I'm up to when I get home.  Work is still going really "well," but I'm both the lead guy in getting us a major technical security audit and I'm trying to figure out how to be a software / business analyst.  Having the house is beyond awesome, but we don't get to move in for a month-plus because we have to have the upstairs floors refinished and the floor guys are weeks out until they're available (side note: this part will be expensive.) 

And the kiddo...oh, jeebus, the kiddo.  She's adorable.  She's learning new words literally every day now and is actually making some progress on the walking thing.  But holy pooping damn, she demands 100% attention 100% of the time.  Obviously, B has to deal with this all the time, but my part is getting home after the stuff noted in the first paragraph and having to be the paragon of father - husband virtue instanter. 

Hope for the future consists of the following: the bulk of the audit will be done, for better or worse, within a month.  My class ends at the start of December.  Because we don't get to move right away, we get more time to get things sorted and the small things moved and stashed in the basement (and we know that the remaining repairs / setup will have enough time to happen before we're actually living there.)  Must...keep...going.


Got a House

Yep...it's official!  Our house is two blocks southwest of the corner of Killingsworth and Interstate in north Portland (it's in the Overlook neighborhood):

It's Just About Here.

That was one crazy process.  Here is our timeline, for your edification:
  1. Early July: get financials going.
  2. Late July: loan pre-approved.
  3. Late July: start looking.
  4. Early/mid August: put in offer.
  5. Through late August: insanity with repair addendums.  Finally walk away from house.
  6. Early September: start looking again.
  7. Labor day weekend: put in offer on another place.
  8. Next day: counter-offer.  Counter-offer accepted.
  9. Through mid-September: inspections and new repair addendum.  Repair addendum accepted.
  10. Repairs ensue
  11. First week of October: everything wraps up, we get the keys yesterday.
Of course, now comes the carpet ripping-up, the additional crap that needs to get done (i.e. we have to pay more people more money), appliances purchased and installed, then the big push in two weeks with the truck and the friends and the pizza and the beer.

Pics will be on flickr within the next few days!


Another Big Saturday Morning Where I Can't Sleep In

Getting old is retarded.*  It's like this ongoing, low-level feeling of physical unease coupled with a weird starvation diet of sleep.  What I mean by the latter is that it becomes impossible to sleep much, ever - even when you're asleep, you're just drifting at the edge of waking up the whole time, anyway.  After enjoying pizza and wine with homies R+R last night, for some (fucking) reason I turned my alarm on (apparently it's purely reflexive at this point), so it went off at 6:20am like usual this morning.  Now, young me would have just turned it off and gone back to sleep.  Old, current me turned it off and failed to go back to sleep.  Hence blog post.

Work is going pretty well.  I got a semi-promotion to start doing business analysis / project management (with adult supervision in the form of one of my bosses), which is a step in the direction I want to go involving doing full-on project management in a tech context.  Why would I want to do such a thing, you possibly impulsively think for a quarter of a second before getting bored and thinking about something more interesting, like anything else at all, ever?  The answer is that doing project management seems  to be less stressful than doing IT but pays more.  My mama didn't raise no dummies, you see.

I'm teaching again, too.  I mean to write a blog post about my big ultimate take on having spent six years earning a doctorate and then promptly returning to a variation on what I was doing before I went to grad school in the first place instead of doggedly pursuing a teaching career...but this post ain't that.  Suffice it to say for now that teaching is still fun, I like those silly kids in my classes, but it is also pretty exciting to be signing the papers on our new house next week. 

Speaking of, and forgive me for the weird species of bragging, but these are things our house has:
  1. 5 years in to a 30-year roof.
  2. New siding.
  3. New furnace.
  4. (now) New sewer line.
  5. (now) New circuit box and a bunch of new electrical.
  6. New Windows!
This latter one is huge.  Everyone we know who owns a house has gone through the window replacement thing in the last few years and it sounds brutal.  We are some lucky shits to be moving in to a place where the guy before already paid for it.

* Retarded is the last socially unpalatable term I insist on using sometimes.  I'm sure I'll get in trouble for it eventually and be forced to just mutter it under my breath when I'm alone.


Ain't Got No Subject Line 'Cuz She Done Me Wrong

That's how a blog post would start if I sang the blues, only I'd say it twice.

Anyway, there is nothing new.  See here:
  1. Buying a house a kind of painful process.  Have I mentioned that?  Yes, I have.
  2. The heat last week just about killed me.  I was unprepared for a super-hot in September.  The advent of gray skies and cool winds made me fall over in happy relief-edness.
  3. I start teaching again ridiculously soon!  Weird!
  4. Plan C is one crazy 16-month old.  We had a lovely reprieve tonight after she took an actual nap and was in a good mood for the rest of the evening.  This was not coincidental.  
  5. You know what I like to eat?  Kale.  God being old is weird.
  6. Mostly I like to eat runny eggs, though.
  7. We're going to H+M this weekend!  Gonna maybe buy me some more pants!
  8. Have I mentioned of late that Pesto is still truckin' along at nine years?  She is one awesome bunny.


Accidentally Called my Co-Worker a Jerk-Off Today

Despite the ridiculous and completely evil late-summer heat wave that I hate like death, I rode my bike to work today.  On leaving, I discovered that the owner of the next bike over on the rack had U-locked my brake line to his bike and the rack.  Thus, I could not depart.  Nor, however, could I just take the bus home, because that would entail leaving the bike there all night and it's my homie E's bike - not mine to chance to the tender mercies of Portland's nocturnal bike goblins!  I went back up to the office to get a sticky note to write on and announced to everyone that "some jerk-off" had done this thing.  My co-worker J commiserated, saying he had suffered through precisely the same predicament in Boston this one time.  Then he asked what the bike looked like and (this is where I skip to the obvious conclusion to the anecdote) it turns out it was him.

I was greatly relieved because I got to go home and I also felt kind of bad for accidentally calling him a jerk-off.  Everyone in the office thought it was HI-larious, however.  I am basically a morale officer.

In other news!
  1. My old ska band is playing a reunion show tomorrow evening (an evening which just happens to be my birthday) in Eugene.  I feel bad for missing it mostly because it's a tribute show for the old drummer, a remarkable guy who died tragically recently of a heart attack.  I would have also liked to have seen the old gang, people who were really important to me during those formative late adolescent years.  But...I can't.  My non-working time is dad time, and house-buying-stuff-time, and it just wasn't in the cards.  Here's hoping they rock it third-wave late 90s skinny ties and docs style tomorrow.
  2. Seriously leaning toward getting a single-speed bike.  I just hate gears!  They suck!
  3. I am now becoming a sort of apprentice project manager at work, along with being the systems guy and the QA guy.  One of my bosses referred to me as the "leatherman" of the joint, but I don't think he realized that my alternative lifestyle choices don't so neatly subscribe to a single encompassing category like that.  (get it?  get it?  I'm being funny!)
  4. Birthday weekend plans!  B's being a stud and letting me play D+D and have band practice!  Hot damn!


Did Get a House

  1. Thursday: house comes on market.
  2. Friday: B sees house.
  3. Saturday: we see house together.  Offer is made.
  4. Sunday: counter-offer made by seller.  Counter-off accepted.
And that is how you do it.

Obviously, this is pending the inspection and all that jazz, but we're feeling good about this one.  It's on N. Concord, close-in North Portland, a block from the Max line.  It also has almost all new stuff, including the unheard-of new windows.  It's right at the tippy-top of what we can afford, but not over said tippy-top, so we're okay.

With any luck, the place will be ours in early October and we'll be moved in by Halloween.  Ain't that some shit. 


A Stupid Thing to Do to a House

We saw our first house that had been staged for flipping (yes, people still do that shit in this economy, somehow...) It had been HGTV'd to the nines, with granite counter tops and new floors kind of stapled onto the existing structure. The location was awesome and it was still a good house; we may well have made an offer on it except that...


Yes, part of the flipping thing is selling off the yard, which was just barely big enough that some dickhead developer is going to come in and build one of those obnoxious tall n' skinny townhouses that are springing up like deadly nightshade all over Portland. It was a huge bummer, because it immediately made even considering the place a non-starter.

So: to developers and house-flippers: please go run into something sharp.



Didn't Get The House

I haven't had a generic newsy post in a while, so here I go...

We've been going back and forth with the seller of this one neat house in North Portland for the last two-plus weeks. It's a cool place in a nice neighborhood. It also has a lot of big-deal problems, so the negotiations had to do with making sure that he'd fix 'em before we bought it. We finally reached a point today where there was just too much of an unknown potential money-pit factor (four foundation repair inspections later) and we bailed.

We are bummed, but also excited to look at other places armed with the knowledge gleaned from this particular $700 misadventure (the cost of all the inspections - the would-be buyer has to pay for those...)

All subsequent houses we consider putting an offer down on must have the following characteristics:
  1. Gas heat.
  2. No not-necessarily decommissioned old oil tanks buried in the yard.
  3. No foundation issues.
  4. More than a few feet in between us and the neighbors.
  5. A basement that is not too cavelike; actual stalagmites especially not okay.
  6. A neighborhood we'd be down with walking in.
Anyway, better luck next time, us.


So You Want to Know How I Do It?

Well, I shall TELL you, then!
  1. Pasta.
  2. Two fried eggs with runny yolks.
  3. A bunch of shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
  4. Olive oil.*
And I am good to go.

* Why the crap do chefs on cooking shows always specify extra virgin olive oil? Of course it's extra virgin! Would I purchase extra slutty olive oil? I think not!


I Love Bureaucracy. No, I Really, Honestly Do.

We're in the midst of full-on house-buying crazytown, a quest that took me to the Bureau of Something Something near PSU last week to look for old plumbing permits. While there, I was reminded again of the grace of professional bureaucrats and the ease of navigating a huge bureaucracy. Want to know the secret? Here you go:
  1. Be really nice to the bureaucrats.
These people spend their professional lives in front of spreadsheets and/or the public, both of whom can be bitches. Bureaucrats do not hate you; what they want is to have an easy time doing their jobs. What they want is a nice, polite person to make reasonable requests of them and to then follow the rules in having those requests fulfilled. They want you to be patient and understanding. If you do these things...they will DO WHAT YOU WANT IN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR PROFESSIONAL CAPABILITIES AND CAPACITY. They will get you that permit! They will process that request! They will transfer your child to the other school! They will DO THESE THINGS. Sorry to e-shout.

In short, to brag, I always get what I want with bureaucrats, because I am nice to them.


Verily Shall I Endeavor!

...to do the following things!
  1. I shall ignore the fact that I am on a bike, miserably racing past dorks in their silly bike clothes and dodging traffic. Note that this willful ignorance will not preclude me from due caution.
  2. I shall eschew the three hours of video game leisure I have per week in favor of maybe closer to 1.5 hours of it, along with 1.5 of something more useful!
  3. I shall write some new tunes for The Nervous. For lo, at some point shall we practice yet again!
  4. I shall continue my miserable fucking workout routine, in the vain quest of...what? Who knows?!
  5. I shall continue diving head-first into technical challenges at work about which I know...precious little.
  6. I shall blog slightly more frequently!


Big-Time Update, You Guys

House! An offer we made was accepted on a pretty neat house off of Rosa Parks in North Portland. Tomorrow is the inspection, and if that goes well, the days after are the other inspections (sewer, radon, Indian burial grounds, etc.), then comes the appraisal and title verification, and if we don't explode into bloody stains from the stress by then, eventually we write the biggest check ever written and become Dr. and Mrs. Zoidberg, homeowners. Crazy.

Bikes! I am the only person in Portland who has realized that you go much faster if you stay in the hardest gear on your bike (as far as I can tell. This is just the evidence talking.) Also, it's official: I kind of hate commuting by bike, but the exercise is so good and the price is so free that I can't stop doing it. Gotta be heart-healthy! Gotta burn those calories! Gotta have a good excuse to eat more Pad Khee Mao!

Babies! Plan C is equal parts brilliant, adorable, and totally bloody lazy. No walking, still. Little talking, still. Oh, she CAN talk if she wants to, she COULD finish learning to walk if she wanted to, but she's only just getting around to having more than one tooth, so she doesn't feel like doing much of anything but stealing hearts when she goes out and pointing at things and saying "buh?!" when she stays in.

My wife! Is hot. She gets sick of me telling her that, but it's the truth.

Fun stuff! A captcha (the download letters nonsense) the other day was "options typlig," which is my new pseudonym, or at least my new nom de plume. Also, I've agreed with my homie K to greet her by saying "DANGEROUS WEAPONS!"


Music and Pizza

Part I: Today, the men of The Nervous joined forces to produce the soundtrack for our homie K's 15-Minute Filmfest movie, a mockumentary about a kid who wears wigs all the time. We produced (wrote and recorded) three songs and one background musicy thing in the course of five hours:
  1. A sad song.
  2. A happy song.
  3. A thrash-punk song for the part where the kid burns his wigs.
  4. A weird ambient thing.
As ever, The Nervous were Clean, Punctual, and Efficient.

Part II: B, Plan C and I went to our favorite pizza place in Portland last night: American Dream. I just love that place. We always get a medium pizza with BBQ chicken and artichoke hearts. We also drank a pitcher of Full Sail Amber. Plan C was adorable, saying hi to everyone and being cute as the dickens. What I was most interested to see is that the Indie Rock Hipsters that used to work there back during Portland V. 1.0 are gone, replaced by Metal Hipsters! Those metal hipsters can really make some pizza, though!



This is a picture of my grandfather and me last weekend. We have some hats on.

I spent 40 bucks on a vintage pork pie at Puttin' On the Ritz, the decidedly old-school vintage store in Eugene that's been around since the early 90s. It was worth it because now I have three rad hats. In fact, along with being bloody exhausted and not getting to read for fun, the thing I don't like about biking to work is that I don't get to sport a dapper hat every day.

And my hats: they are dapper.


Food Carts I Have Known

The big thing in Portland w/r/t* food is the food cart phenomenon. There are tons of those guys, packed with mostly really great food for very little money. A few notes:
  1. Until recently, my favorite was Creme de la Creme, a French bistro cart in the pod by our apartment (the pod is at Belmont and about SE 44th.) Croque madames, onion tarts, etc., with amazing salads with amazing vinaigrette. Unfortunately, they started copping some attitude ("best French restaurant in Portland," per Yelp) and they now charge a 50 cent to-go fee, which is a big what-the-fuck since they're a bloody FOOD CART and the whole POINT is that you get it to go. They also charge too much: 8 bucks a meal is 2 - 3 bucks more than I want to spend at a food cart. Still tastes good, anyway.
  2. Thai! I always go to Thai Sky at the square-block-big pod at 4th and Oak, a block from my job. It's in direct competition with two other Thai carts at the same pod, so they're all locked in a "lunch = 5 dollars, that's it" kind of price war. The Pad Khee Mao is just divine. I have yet to get anything else, because why bother?
  3. There are lots of other really good food carts! I already ran out of literary steam, however, as it is 9pm on a work night and B and I polished off some booze and played with Plan C.
Mostly I just bring peanut butter sandwiches to work, but boy do I count down the days in between Pad Khee Mao days. There are six of them.

* "With regard to" - funny prickish abbreviation I got from David Foster Wallace, essays by which I am perusing on days where I don't ride "my" bike but instead take the bus.


The Deadly Spear-Hand to the Throat

Ha! What the heck am I on about?!

  1. Trying out Chrome instead of Firefox, at least in Windows. Firefox has been dragging ass on my laptop, and I'm weirded out by the whole direct jump from 4.x to 5.x in the course of a month or whatever it was...
  2. I really need to get better about taking pictures and videos. Plan C is adorable. Portland is beautiful. My friends are stunningly good-looking. The world needs to see these things.
  3. Hostin' the in-laws this weekend. Yesterday I basically sat around with my father in-law and drank and talked shit. That's what we do.
  4. Sending in pre-approval paperwork tomorrow! House-hunting to commence shortly thereafter! I saw a five bedroom, two bath house in our price range on the listings the other day (I mean...I'm sure something was wrong with it, but it was still HEARTENING to see that much house for an amount we could afford.)
  5. Coffee's still my north, my south, my east, my west, my working week, my day of rest.


Patriotic Observations

This was not pre-meditated, but I ended up wearing my KGB shirt (with the above image on the back) today. Happy 4th everybody!

  1. So far, the new season of True Blood is living up to expectations! Naked vampire squabbling!
  2. I really missed hanging out with other inked-up old punks during the Exile. The joint birthday party of H + D the other night was a wonderful return to form.
  3. I almost bought a single-speed bike the other day. B convinced me to simmer on it, especially because E doesn't get back from Germany for about a month (at which point she'll presumably want her bike back. Doh!)
  4. My kid has grown like a fucking FOOT in the last month or so.
  5. Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't eat so much carbs. But...it's like my only vice! Besides the drinkin', I mean!
  6. I like playing Dragon Age on my computer and Dungeons and Dragons in real life. There have also been some discussions of me running a 4th ed. Vampire game.
  7. The really successful run buying pants the other week obviated the need to do anything productive this weekend.


Regarding Those Things I Mentioned

  1. So, it turns out that I really like software testing ("Quality Assurance"...orperhapsyouprefer "Business Analysis"). It's tricky stuff in that you need to understand complex software at a pretty deep level and you need to be able to apprehend problems from a user perspective and from a development perspective. BUT holy crap is it easy compared to what I have been doing: the constantly-escalating technical challenges and playing-with-live-ammo aspect of production systems management. I mean, I'm still doing that, but at least now there's a lot of totally unthreatening testing in there, too. As an added bonus, my time is billed to the clients, so I'm actually i>making the company money.
  2. Riding that them thar bike! It's like free exercise, you guys!
  3. Also: had a terrific pants day the other day. Pants were located! Pants were purchased! We discovered that the Goodwill on Broadway near Lloyd Center is great. I got an apparently unworn pair of Gap jeans for 10 bucks. I got an amazing green cowboy pear-snap button shirt for 6. ET CETERA. Also: some weird generic Chinese pseudo-cords from Sears for 15. WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME.


My Cup Runneth Over

With events! I have been doing things, and the fact that when I'm at work I have to work and when I'm at home I'm hanging out with Plan C means that I don't get to blog much. As a result, the whole world suffers. Here's what's been up:
  1. I went to Sunriver with my mom, stepdad, brother, B and Plan C. We had a very nice time drinking all the wine in central Oregon. Also, there were bike rides and games of Ticket to Ride.
  2. We have been pretty darn social. This means that we eat dinner with people, basically.
  3. I started riding my (borrowed - thanks E!) bike to work. It's about 30 minutes one way, going from 47th + Stark over the Burnside Bridge to the office, then later reversing that process to go home. It's very satisfying, albeit a little scary, and if the first few days are any indication, I am going to be back in cardio-related shape very quickly.
  4. I seriously need some new pants AGAIN.
  5. I'm moving very quickly into QA (which means software testing) at work as the operations stuff sort of starts to fall off.
  6. I have initiated the house-buying process. I've sent off reams of financial paperwork, albeit digitized, to the loan officer lady, and I expect we'll be seriously at it by mid-August or so.
  7. Plan C grew like a vertical foot in a week.
I have pictures on flickr, which is where I put pictures, because I'm wary of putting pictures on Facebook. That is all.



So...funny timing on blog posts. I was hired full-time at the software company two days after my latest online bitch-fest. All I can say about it is that I feel completely unequivocal about my priorities; even if this means that teaching becomes entirely a sideline activity for the rest of my life, I really don't care. I find that at 32, with a kid, living in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of American capitalism, I just want to take care of my family and try to keep my head above water.

I was IM'ing with K about it yesterday and she was pointing out that it's also something of a stand on principle to reject the endless treadmill of part-time, insecure and unsupported academic employment (i.e. as an adjunct/lecturer.) The system works because so many people like me / K* are willing to chase after the elusive full-time jobs, sacrificing everything in the name of a career and a system that almost no one actually gets access to.

Looking back, I think I'm most bitter about the attitude of tenured / tenure-track faculty, who treat adjuncts as kind of embarrassing plague-bearers; they walk past them in the halls of academic discourse (virtually and literally) like most of us walk past bearded hobos wrapped in sleeping bags begging for change. Of all the causes academics try to associate themselves with, the fate of the entire profession doesn't seem very important to most of them.

So, fuck them anyway. I'll go fix servers and do software QA.

* K is calling bullshit on this, too. By "people like me / K," I just mean "people with PhDs who are old(er) and want to not be as poor as they have been forever."



The setting: since about 1980, real wages in the US have stagnated or declined across the board. The "growth" of the economy has been based entirely on financial and commodity speculation (stocks, real estate, currency trading, and so on), meaning only people who are already wealthy have access to further wealth. The social standard is still that of the so-called full-time job: a 40-hour work week (not counting commute, lunch and breaks, and heaps of unpaid overtime for salaried employees) with a decent wage and modest benefits. Full-time jobs are, however, the privilege of a relatively small elite of educated, well-connected people, and they're always vulnerable to outsourcing / downsizing / restructuring / further corporate euphemism.

The protagonist: a basically well-meaning and friendly fellow with a lot of degrees and some technical skills.

The challenge: can our tinhorn hero navigate the treacherous waters of postmodern capitalism and arrive at the shoals of a semi-secure "full-time job," having despaired of the larger context improving in the slightest? Will he scale the ice wall of technical certifications armed with the crampons of a mediocre understanding of networking and domain administration, or will he skip from stone to stone across the river of community college education, earning barely enough to keep his family fed (to quote the Beverly Hillbillies theme)?

Or will his metaphors get even worse?!

Tune in this decade as we find out if the far-off dream of buying a small bungalow in a livable neighborhood of Portland, going on the occasional trip to a nearby spot featuring a river or something, and modern amenities like new socks once in a while are on the horizon!


The Nervous: Updated Report

Yesterday was the second meeting of the three-man rock n' roll party experience The Nervous. We ran through our "set," such as it is, a couple of times. We tightened bolts and adjusted screws. So to speak. Tunes so far include:
  1. Mental Retard (Riverdales)
  2. Stick Boy (Hanson Bros.)
  3. My Girlfriend's a Robot (Hanson Bros.)
  4. Not For Mary Lou (Hanson Bros.)
  5. IP V6 (me)
  6. Firmware (me)
  7. song that Ransom wrote that I can't remember the name of (Ransom)
I expect we'll end up dropping Stick Boy, because playing a song about Hockey doesn't quite fit the self-imposed / understood genre restrictions, but otherwise it's full speed ahead.

The Nervous: Punctuality, Cleanliness, Efficiency. An Iron Core of Discipline.


Reading (Zizeck) for Pleasure

I didn't read anything for fun for six years, the six years that happened to coincide with having to read 200 - 400 pages a week of dense academic prose (most of it in French during the latter few years). Now that I'm back in civilian life and I take public transportation every day, I am all about reading for fun. Fun includes the following so far:

  1. The entire Jim Butcher Furies of Calderon series (good fantasy.)
  2. The two amazing novels by Patrick Rothfuss.
  3. The Stupidest Angel and A Dirty Job by Chris Moore.
  4. Zizeck! I'm reading Living in the End Times right now and it's just chock full of radical theoretical giggles. Zizeck is a particularly interesting case for me, because most of the people I studied in grad school loved to read philosophy; they were philosophers who really sincerely enjoyed reading Hegel (which is about as much fun, IMHO, as taking a screwdriver to the soft tissue under your knee cap.) Zizeck is probably the first time I've really enjoyed reading philosophy. Even my dissertation work on Gorz wasn't like this; I liked and admired Gorz as a thinker, but it was still work getting through his stuff. Zizeck is like philosophy candy.
So now you know about that.


The Nervous: An Initial Report

Yesterday evening Ransom, T, and I got together for the first official "this time with drums" meeting of The Nervous. We played three Hanson Bros. covers, one Riverdales cover, and an original composition of mine entitled "IPV6." Ransom and I also mostly remembered our favorite Mondale song from back in the day, "Proto Unit V3."

The practice went really well. T is right at the same level on drums as are Ransom and I at guitar and bass. All of us felt tired and a bit beat-up after we were done since we're all out of shape with the necessary weird music muscles. I also determined that it's imperative that I re-remember how to play bass fast properly, playing with my arm and not my wrist. I have proto-carpal tunnel just from one two-hour practice, which is uncool and I must avoid in the future.

After the practice I hung around ate food and drank beers with some of the usual beautiful suspects. We watched a whole mess of funny videos, including highlights from both seasons of Flight of the Conchords and various meme-y songs on Youtube (First Semester of Spanish Love Song, etc.) I tried and failed to find the following video for everyone to watch, by Portland's proudest sons Red Fang:


It is really important that you watch that. It is really funny and it rocks super-hard. Now you know.


Bachelor Pad

B and Plan C are down in California visiting the 'rentals, leaving me to my own wily out-of-control paint-peeling-from-the-walls madness big-money-spendin' ways. They include:
  1. Eating pasta every night.
  2. Watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix.
  3. Playing a lot of Borderlands. I have shot my way through about 2/3 of the game so far.
  4. Not shaving. I have my scruff-tastic thing going on at this point.
  5. Going to work. Shit!
It sounds like they're having a really nice time down there, aided greatly by the fact that Plan C is sleeping through the night (A.) and pooping semi-regularly (B.), neither of which she did the last time they were down there back in January.

Anyway. I hope everyone is still good-looking out there.


Computer Post 1

There will be a couple of these, so get ready to get bored.

I was terribly pleased with myself in coming up with this analogy: being a systems guy is like being an airplane mechanic while the plane is still in the air. There were probably three times on Friday when I sort of hovered over something with my mouse, ready to click Apply and watch as either all hell broke loose or everything just kept pooping right along (happily, hell only broke loose once.)

A certain incident on Friday also brought the age-old Windows vs. Linux debate, on the server-side, to the foreground for the first time (for me) in a long time. I summarize the results of the discussion had with a friend/co-worker:

  1. It's easy-ish, because it's (almost) all done through graphical interfaces.
  2. MS has invested bzillions in it, so most of the time what you want is available somewhere, however buried in features.
  3. On a good day, it's pretty intuitive.
  1. Everything is done through the command-line, so you can just have a single terminal window to do 100% of everything.
  2. Thousands of incredibly smart geeky open source dorks have created almost every kind of system available.
  3. It's completely free. You can spin up as many Linux servers as you want and never have to worry about the licensing.
  4. Once it's set up properly, it just works.
  1. A big one here: even though most of it is done through the graphical interface, there are scores of these weird, and weirdly-important, little administrative tasks that happen on the command line. The problem is that they're incredibly obscure and there is no common language or nomenclature, unlike in Linux where the commands are well known and standardized.
  2. It's really expensive.
  3. It does stupid shit for no reason. We added some servers to the domain the other day and wham! The Windows firewall popped up and shut down connections between an application and its database, where it hadn't before, and it took us 15 minutes to figure out what had happened and fix it.
  4. Along with point 1., even the GUI stuff can be strangely unintuitive; it took me a long-ass time to figure out how to add a group as a local admin on a class of machines through a group policy object, and it should have been straightforward.
  1. It can be pretty F'ing cryptic.
  2. Seriously, it's cryptic.
  3. When it doesn't work, it really doesn't work. You have to know how to set it up properly; you aren't going to be able to just click through and magically have it work.
Tune in next time when I tell you about my neat new cheapo PC. Or you could just curl up in a ball on your floor and cry yourself to sleep; either way.


Thrust, Parry, Riposte

B made these - she hand-burned the lettering in with a little crafty hand-burner/letterer. Hence the Chinese restaurant font.

  1. We partied like it was 1789 this weekend with (many of) our friends and, a day letter, family members. My stance is that you should normally separate friends and family into distinct party arrangements (except at your wedding and/or funeral) - it's just awkward to hang out with other people's family, no matter how nice they are. (Note to my mom: this is a general principle thing; no offense intended.)
  2. Plan C can say things, crawls around like the dickens, and has another tooth coming in. Next stop: grad school.
  3. Speaking of, reading my homie K's posts and chatting w/ her via IM and e-mail has led me to conclude, conclusively, that no one should go to grad school. I mean it. I, personally, had a good run and had a lot of fun, but as a general principle thing, no offense intended, no one should go. You're really better off just trying to find a job you hate a little less and going on trips and so on.
  4. I have adopted an official "fuck it" policy on the stress level at my jobs.
  5. This whole "playing music again" thing is slow going, but progress is being made. Next Friday the three core members of The Nervous will assemble for the first time and play several Hanson Bros.* and Riverdales covers, as well as an original composition I am entitling "IP v6." (That's a tech joke/reference.)
* No, not those Hanson Bros., the punk ones. Jesus, dude.


A Very Joy Division Easter

I never really knew what goth sounded like, when it came down to it. I went through a fairly brief phase in high school when I listened to a Cure mix tape my girlfriend made me, basically because she was convinced that we had to like the same kind of music or the relationship was doomed (it was, of course, in the long run, but that didn't have anything to do with the Cure, at least directly.) I also liked what used to be called industrial - Ministry, Pigface, F'ing Nine Inch Nails, etc. - I think industrial had some weird, tangential relationship with goth.

Anyway, when C gave me all of her records, she included a few that lead me to believe she must have gone through a more substantial goth phase than I ever did, what with the Bauhaus and the Joy Division. On Easter Sunday we hung out and I ripped goth records and we ate burritos w/ my brother in-law. It was fun. It turns out that goth is surprisingly funky rock n' roll...the monotone vocals make it gothy, but the music is actually kind of party-tastic. Let's all party to Joy Division, you guys.

Speaking of parties, P-town homies are reminded that it's Plan C's one-year b-day party this Saturday. See you then.


Oncall and the Baby Can Crawl

  1. I'm oncall for the software job pretty-much all the time now. Being oncall is this odious, revolting job duty concomitant with IT itself. For a period of time, usually a week or so and usually as part of a rotating schedule shared between people in the IT dept., you are chained to a pager, waiting for something to break so that you can instantly leap out of bed at 3:00am and totally fix it, VPN'd in to the work network and firing off commands and connections to SAVE THE DAY, YOU GUYS! In fact, the way it usually works is just a lot of lost sleep to no productive end (see: my Tuesday night - 3 hours is not a lot of sleep to get.) That said, the oncall situation at this company is infinitely better than other ones I've had to deal with in the past, and it helped cement my place as official systems guy there, so I'm making a tough-guy face and just pushing through.
  2. Plan C taught herself to crawl the other night, finally, one week before her first birthday. She finally concluded that it would be easier to crawl around herself than to just point at places she wanted to go and shout at us. Thanks, little kid. We appreciate it.


Analog to Digital

Rippin' records to mp3 this morning before I go to campus. Here's how to do it:
  1. Hook your turntable up to a stereo amplifier that has a line out and get an adapter cable that goes from the 2-prong out to a 1-prong in so you can plug in to your computer. Obviously, you need an amp with a proper phono input, otherwise you'll need to buy a phono pre-amp (which are cheap.)
  2. Plug it in to the line-in. I'm doing mine on a cheapo Dell laptop and it works fine; if you want to get all fancy with a proper audio card, party on.
  3. Install Audacity.
  4. Install Lame for Audacity.
  5. Fire up Audacity, play a record and adjust the line-in volume. Mine is super loud, so I had to turn it almost all the way down otherwise the recordings sounded all fuzzed-out.
  6. Hit record and play the record. Once you're done, zoom out (Ctrl+3) so that you can see the blocks of sound that represent each song. Drag over each selection and select File -> Export Selection and save it as a mp3. Do that for each song.
It's fun, albeit time-consuming. The goal is to have a lot of the 90s Pac Northwest indie rock that I got from C ripped by the time she comes over to hang out on Sunday so that I can give the mp3s to her as a thank-you for the records.


Blood Boiling Over. Also, a List.

  • Blood pressure ratcheted back up to hummingbird level after a brief respite, following yet another logistical screw-up. Me trying to stay on top of everything is the mental equivalent of one-handed push-ups.
  • Nice weekend in Ilwaco, WA, staying at one of my boss's vacation pad (i.e. I have three bosses, but said boss only has one vacation pad. Plurals got lost in that syntax.) B and I haven't had a recharging time-away thing since well before C was born.
  • Fun home-buying facts: you are supposed to earn roughly 3 times your monthly mortgage payment (before taxes), and you need at least a 640 credit score for a loan, preferably closer to 740. A down payment of 20% of the overall price means that you don't need to buy mortgage insurance.
  • The only kind of beer I really don't like is brown ale. I am a little burned on IPAs, too, but that's just because of over-exposure to hops.
  • It takes a real man to wear almost-white jeans. I am that man.
  • Today's lecture is on the iron age and the ancient Hebrews. I love the head-fuck factor of telling the students that the Hebrews only became monotheists about 700 years after Moses supposedly led them out of Egypt (an event with no corroboration from Egyptian textual records or archeological evidence, BTW.) Facts have this wonderful corrosive effect on religion.
  • Plan C is seriously teething and has been seriously demanding of late. But she's still slay-you cute, so we put up with it. I've always been a sucker for a pretty face.


Man, I Hate Learning

(side note: when you become a parent, one thing that happens is that you cringe every time an emergency vehicle goes past while the baby is taking her nap. Shut UP, ambulance!)

I did a dumb thing recently, dumb enough that I'm not going to post about the details in a public forum, just a few hours after I had been musing on the fact that it really sucks to have to make the mistake-from-which-you-learn-a-valuable-lesson FIRST to learn the concomitant valuable lesson. My whole personality revolves around valuable lessons that might be learned without making the mistake first; this is called "anxiety."

Also, this morning, I spent a few hours at work (note: it is Saturday) trying to get a Microsoft server thing to work. It didn't at all. It was like the bad old NT 4 days, of clicking a thing and it saying "ok!" in the dialog box but nothing actually happens. No errors, nothing in the logs, just a pure vortex of utter blackness deep in the machine's memory. Up yours, Redmond.

I am done with learning for a little while.


A Few Too Many Jobs

Post for the sake of posty posting...

I got another editing gig with the textbook people I've been working for, on and off, now and again, for the last nine months or so. The money is great, so I can't really justify turning the jobs down when the come up.

But...three jobs at once is a lot. History 101 starts up again tomorrow, with the big introduction / talk about the syllabus / I recite everything that happens from hominid evolution to the early middle ages to an incredulous band of community college students. I'm pushing hard at the software company, trying my damndest to make myself invaluable so they'll hire me full-time and I can more actively dream of things like home ownership. Now I've got 400 questions on American history to edit by Friday.*

And then there's Plan C. 11 months old in two days, adorable and hilarious as ever, but so lazy. She still can't crawl, although she walks if you hold her up while she does it. Her mode of locomotion is to point at where she wants to go and then shout at us. It can be pretty exhausting. Oh, and now she is officially teething, too.

* I do not know anything about American history, but I do know how to read a textbook and edit things written in English.

P.S. I realize that it's poor form for a part-time editor to start paragraphs with "but" AND "and," but the internet is a place where grammar is but an occasional dinner guest.


Devo 2011

We Ain't Gettin' Any Younger

I saw Devo two nights ago. It was amazing. The show was too F'ing expensive and it was at the worst venue in Portland, but it was easily one of the best concerts of my life. A few quick observations:

Devo started as more of a performance art group than a "band" in so many words, and that has always given them an incredible sense of theatricality that translates brilliantly to live performance. They had a huge video screen, multiple costume changes, and overall fantastic stagecraft.

I am a lifelong hardcore Devo fan, but I never thought of them as being "rocking," really...it was more like a great intellectual exercise to listen to Devo for me. No longer. Devo rocked harder than Motorhead did last month, really. The energy level was intense.

They are amazing musicians. They didn't miss a fucking note. Mark Mothersbaugh, the lead singer, was particularly incredible.

The thing about Devo is that they are truly inimitable. They have had an incalculable impact on music but no one ever has or ever will sound "like" them.



Records are more fun to listen to than mp3s are. It's true! Here's why, I think:

A record is a tactile experience that takes a small but meaningful investment of time and care (i.e. so that you don't drop the needle and screw it up or scratch the record.) Listening to records involves listening to the whole album since skipping songs is impractical. The album art is infinitely better. The sound is warmer, and there's something satisfyingly arcane about the little pops and jumps. All in all, listening to records shifts music back to being an activity, not a passive background.

I finally managed to make it in to the local old-school electronics joint two weeks ago and got the stylus replaced and everything adjusted and balanced on the 1970s-era Technics turntable I inherited from my dad. Then, in an incredible stroke of good fortune and generosity, my home girl C gave me her entire record collection, consisting of a crate of 90s / early 2000's Pac Northwest indie rock and punk. She and I are exactly the same age and grew up in the same place, listening to a lot of the same kinds of music, so there I am with a pile of Crackerbash and Pond and Oswald 50s LPS and 7 inches and remembering when I used to see them all play and/or covet their albums at House of Records on 13th. Her thing is just that she doesn't have a turntable and didn't see herself investing the time in either setting up a record-listening situation or selling them, so she gave 'em to me (free to good home.)

My plan is to rip the really good records to mp3 so that she can at least have the music "back" in that sense. There are also at least two 7" that might be worth real money, so if I sell those I'm giving her the proceeds. (But, following B's advice, I will probably just keep 'em and listen to them instead.)

Anyway, the point is that records are great and I am having fun being 32 years old.


A Few Things Worthy of Hatred

  1. When people fall asleep against you on the bus.
  2. The shoddiness of umbrellas.
  3. Pseudophedrine being unavailable as an over-the-counter medication in Oregon (thanks for screwing that up for the rest of us, tweakers...)
  4. One's nose and upper lip turning red from all the kleenex.
  5. Inconsiderate neighbors.
  6. Cleaning the bathtub.
  7. Grown men and women who either a. do not cover their mouths when coughing/sneezing or b. don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. Or neither.
  8. The human condition.


Unsolicited Kiddo Update

A recent pic of Plan C, courtesy of B, who actually knows how to take pictures.

In completely non-exercise related news...

Plan C is now just over 10 months old. She's been in the midst of a hellacious growth spurt for the last two weeks or so. She still doesn't have any teeth. She eats lots of organic veggie purees, along with oatmeal, hard-boiled egg yolks, and avocado (and breast milk, of course.) She can crawl backwards but has had zero luck learning how to go forwards. She can stand by herself as long as she has something to hold on to. She signs "milk," "rain," "light," and "fan" (she loves ceiling fans) and understands various little phrases we say to her. She babbles constantly and does a little sing-song thing sometimes, especially when we're in the car. She sleeps through the night most nights now, as long as we have the heat in her room cranked to almost 70. She loves our friends. She thinks we're okay, too.


Futher Observations

  1. As far as I can tell, none of the buskers (that is a person who plays music on the street for money) near the food carts in downtown Portland ever make any money. Maybe it's because they suck so badly.
  2. If there's something better than Pad Khee Mao from a Thai cart for five bucks, I don't care: I'm still getting Pad Khee Mao from a Thai cart for five bucks.
  3. (Technical note): In software development there's a thing called source control, in which you automatically keep copies of your source code in a central repository, so you can always revert back to a working version if you accidentally break something. There is nothing like that for doing systems stuff (i.e. servers and networking.) When you fuck up, things just stop working.
  4. You know what really sucked? Nu-metal.
  5. Also, back in the early 90s, there were a lot of guys who wore shorts with long-johns underneath tucked into combat boots. Those same guys would smoke some weed and then go see Primus.
  6. My daughter is cuter than a pile of kittens. I'm sorry, but it's true.
  7. I am sporting skinny jeans. I took the plunge. Levi's 511s. They've already revolutionized my lifestyle.
  8. I do so many crunches and push-ups, but I always look the same. Oh well.
  9. My homie Ransom and I are going to start playing music again this Saturday! Our band name: The Nervous.


A Lament for the Blogosphere of Yesteryear

(Today's title: a contender for worst...title...ever.)

I have little time or energy, as ever, but I wanted to say: I miss blogs. I miss the days, those halcyon days of youth way back in 2006 or so, when a lot of people had personal blogs that they wrote in for no good reason, often several times a week. It was nice because a lot of the blogs I read were written by friends who lived far away...it was an easy way to keep up with the basic happenings, goings-on, and shenanigans of people I didn't get to see in the flesh very often.

Near as I can tell, blogs live on among people who use them for something useful, like social/political/intellectual commentary or serious hobbyism (craft blogs are still huge, apparently, according to B.) The pointless personal blogs I so love, however, have either been replaced by tumblr among people who give a shit about keeping up with the times (the only friend I have in this category is K), or simply abandoned (like most of the ones I have in my Google Reader selection.)

The two jobs, the baby, the sobbing softly curled up in a little ball*, etc., keep my posts down to one every week or two these days, but I have no intention of throwing in the towel. Just as I was still hand-coding HTML in my old blog years after it was hopelessly archaic to do so, I will still be blogging when everyone else is, like, projecting their memories into one another's brains via wireless signals running over IP V6 (or something.) Uh, so there.

* Me, not that baby, usually.



It's time again for the annual coast trip, in which an elite cadre of the good-looking goes to Lincoln City and stays at a Saudi Prince's vacation home. This year promises to involve movies, walks, it's cold outside, aquariums, breweries, drinkin', a puppet show (?!), and the best of all video games: Mario Kart for the Wii.

I just need to get through a few hours of computery stuff at work and then we are off to navigate some snowy roads.



After you finish a PhD, you enter the teaching wilderness. Statistically, you're unlikely to have secured a tenure-track job, either at a four-year university or a community college / junior college. The plan, then, is to try to do all of the following:
  1. Teach classes as an adjunct instructor at any institution that will take you, a class here and a class there.
  2. If necessary, teach those classes at several different places at once. This involves driving back and forth in the city / region you live in, teaching a class in the morning at College A, one in the early afternoon at College B, and a third in the evening at College C.
  3. You have no health insurance, you have no job security, you earn about 600 bucks/class you teach, per month.
  4. Keep up your "real" academic work: write papers and present them at academic conferences. Pay out of pocket to get to and stay at said conferences, somehow.
  5. Each year, spin the wheel again. Apply for as many tenure-track jobs as you can all over the country. Hope and pray that you get an interview for one of them. Pay out of pocket to to go the big national conference at which all of the first-round interviews are held.
  6. Eventually, you either beat the odds and get a "real" job or you give up and do something else (just don't be an idiot and go to law school in your late 30s, okay?)
I was talking to B about it last night after we put Plan C to bed (and before Plan C woke up again and nearly drove B crazy.) All I've felt since I threw in the towel and contented myself with teaching and doing computer stuff, knowing that I'll probably end up being a full-time IT again at some point, is relief. Life is tough, trying to bring up this kid, working two part-time jobs and making ends meet, etc., but it's nowhere near as tough as trying to pull off steps 1 through 6 as defined above. In a phrase: fuck that.

This post brought to you by the use of the second-person voice.


Regarding Rock n Roll and Beer and So On

Ok then!

Motorhead show: just as good as expected. Let's see here...

Opening band: Valiant Thorr. Honestly, that is the worst band name in the world next to (ahem) "Endangered Feces," which is the band name a certain brilliant young woman I know is peripherally involved in knowing about. They were a lot better than their band name was (is), but they also did a lot of shenanigans involving hopping about.

Clutch: so good, you guys. They didn't need the window dressing. Four guys in t-shirts and sneakers, just rocking the (sorry, mom) fuck out, super-hard. The band didn't even move, expect for the highly-charismatic lead singer*, and their kick-ass bluesy riffs were right on. The contrast with Valiant Thorrrrrrrrrrrrrr was telling.

Motorhead: come on. This is like saying "Jesus was very religious." Motorhead were very rocking. This was the fifth (?) time I saw them live and the only disappointments were that a. you couldn't really hear Lemmy's witticisms because the vocals were a little muddy in the mix, and b., they didn't play Orgasmatron, which is in my top three favorite serious rock** songs.

So, in short, the show was a lot of fun, and I got to go with three of my homies, including Ransom, who had never seen Motorhead live before and was appropriately enthusiastic.

The beer part of the post:

Ok. So, Rogue Ales is among the most renowned microbreweries from Oregon, perhaps best-known for their delicious Dead Guy Ale. I am a big fan of drinking the beers they brew in their brewery. However, I am decidedly OPPOSED to the fact that they charge (sorry, mom) FUCKING ELEVEN FIFTY FOR A SIX PACK. COME ON, you JERKS! Their 22 oz. beers are like six bucks. If they made sandwiches, they would charge ten bucks. ETC.

The thing is, yes, Rogue makes really great beer. The thing is, I am not going to pay almost twice as much for their beer, because SO DO A LOT OF OTHER BREWERIES. HONESTLY.

Sorry to shout about it, I just don't like the precedent they're trying to set here. If I wanted to spend a lot of money on booze, I'd get into fancy wine.

* Brother of Mary Alice from Ace of Cakes. I am not making this up.
** Serious rock is a personal genre.


I'm Happy People Smoke in Portland

Just a few random notes this morning, pending the return of my wife and child from the wilds of California later this afternoon...
  1. I like that so many people smoke in Portland. I like how smoking is, at this point, a kind of defiant act in the face of death itself. It reminds me of the whole rant from Trainspotting ("choose life, choose a big shiny car, choose an automatic washing machine..." etc. etc.) I smile to myself while I'm walking around downtown when I see all the folks standing outside of their jobs smoking on the sidewalks.
  2. My homie K is doing a music video for KMFDM. I am not making this up. This is probably the single biggest connection / interaction anyone I know has had in the music, er, it's not a "business" anymore, so let's say "music hobbyism."
  3. I had fun going out last night to a "bar" and "drinking beers" with "good-looking people I'm friends with." I sure do love that little baby daughter of mine, but it was nice to sneak out and goof off like old times last night.
  4. Speaking of that, I'm going to see Motorhead tonight at the Roseland, accompanied by two of my software buddies from the software company I do software-related software things at. Oh, and F'ing CLUTCH is opening! Clutch is on the short list of bands who deserve to even be on the same bill as Motorhead.
  5. Devo is coming to Portland. I had to buy a ticket to see them, finally. Before they all die, because let's face it, they're getting pretty old.
  6. My poor wife is so, so tired after a week on nonstop mom duty. She is one tough cookie.


Flying Solo

B and Plan C are down in Cali, seeing the inlaws for a week. Plan C is now nine (!) months old, which everyone agreed was about the minimum you'd want for plane travel. It sounds like she did really well with the airport and flight yesterday, although I received reports that she was pretty cranky on the drive from SFO to Marin afterward.

As for me? This is weird, you guys. I normally have about 20 minutes to myself per day, from 6:45 to 7:10am, as I'm crunching down my Cheerios and slurping the first cup of coffee. This apartment seems huge with just me (and Pesto) in it. After getting all choked up leaving the airport yesterday, I spent my day rebuilding my computer, then watched an enjoyably crappy action movie with K. Then I spent a couple of hours shooting guys in the head on my computer. Then I went to sleep.

I did introduce one near interior design element: an ugly black network cable connecting my PC to the router in the kitchen. I have a feeling it is not going to stay in place when B returns.


I Was Observed

I had my observation at school today. If it went well, I might get to teach further classes there. If it didn't, I won't. I was feeling okay leading up to it, but now I feel sort of like I got hit by a bus.

B and Plan C leave for California in three days. It's going to be super, super weird for me being away from them.

Our internet connection sucks, so I'm stealing K's through the wall at the moment. Thanks, K!

My bunny's breath smells like bunny food.


There's No Sleepin' To Be Had

Here's how I remember it worked:

-Childhood into early adolescence: sleep just wasn't a big deal. It was just part of the biological situation.

-Adolescence: sleep became a bigger deal, especially because it became very painful to wake up early, which is pretty stupid because the whole inherited-farm-schedule-nonsense of American schools means you have a lot of very tired, bleary kids showing up at 8:00am. Most of the time during the day you feel alright, though.

- Late adolescence into early 20s: worst part for sleep in a way, because it becomes agonizing to wake up early. The schedule here would normally be something like midnight or 1am to 10am, if possible. You can still soldier through if you have a job that makes you get up at 5:30am (!), but you get real mean and lift weights all the time and drink a lot of beer (a LOT of beer.)

- Late 20s / early 30s: you start getting old. This seems to consist of the ability to wake up when you have to without too much trouble, but the thing is, you feel tired all the time. Morning, afternoon, evening, night, it doesn't matter. It also doesn't matter if you've been sleeping like a champ for weeks. You. Will. Feel. Tired.

- Throw a baby in the mix: well, I sure hope you waited until you were in your late 20s or early 30s, because I know I would have thrown myself out a window if I was dealing with this at 22.

Last night I was in bed by about 11, then up before midnight to convince Plan C to go back to sleep. Then I was up at about 5:50am because she was up and ready to baby party (baby partying is a lot of rolling around the floor with toys making noises.) It's the weekend, so B gets to stay in bed. Then after two hours, Plan C was tired and cranky again, so I put her back to sleep.

Now it's 8:30 in the morning and I have been awake for 2.5 hours and no one else is up. It's weird.


Update All Over the Place

  1. It turns out that Full Sail makes a tasty lager (called LTD), which doesn't really taste like a lager to me, but is still good! So, thanks for trying, Full Sail!
  2. I really enjoyed the movie and associated soundtrack Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. As things like that do, it vaguely made me miss playing in bands. In particular, it made me mourn the nonexistence of some kind of generic middle-of-the-road catchy indie garage pop/rock.
  3. You know what's pretty sweet? Getting Cisco networking equipment to authenticate against a Linux-based radius server. That's what.
  4. I am in love with the PCC shuttle. It's free and it picks me up and drops me off (along with a couple of dozen other people) 10 minutes from my apartment. There's even a downtown line that plops me down close to the software company when I do my schizo teaching / IT guy days.
  5. The baby sleeps in her crib now. The transition was tough but nowhere near as tough as we (or any of the don't-sleep-with-your-baby naysayers)* thought it would be.
  6. The baby has been antisocial lately. She is no longer instantly charmed by loud groups of people. This makes it harder to take her to Motley Crue concerts.
* I do not know who exactly I mean by this.



It's still very dark (and cold!) out right now - 6:58am, exactly 30 minutes after I got up. My first class starts in a few hours. About 60% of my lectures are written(-ish) but I still have a lot to do. I'm especially concerned about running out of material for my ancient world class. There is only so much I have to say about the Egyptians at the moment.

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm pretty annoyed at having dug myself back into the position I was in the whole time I was a graduate student: perpetual guilt tied to perpetual work. As a graduate student, by definition, if you aren't working, you're slacking. Every minute of every day should, in some sick sense, be devoted to working on articles or languages or review. For most people, this results in a nauseating cycle of procrastination and desperation that only lets up when they've finally reached their mental limit and declare to everyone within earshot that they just don't give a shit anymore and they stomp off to cry themselves to sleep. I was happy to leave that behind.

Yet, somehow, here I am again: desperately battling the clock to get enough prepped while still working part-time in IT. Twice a week this term I will be jetting downtown after I teach in the morning to put in a long afternoon at the software company, along with all day on Fridays. B now has to do all of the heavy lifting with Plan C while she (Plan C) is teething, transitioning to the crib, and otherwise going through growing pains.

Lest you think this is all idle complaint, let me restate my intentions for the edification of the interwebs: never again will I do this kind of crap. I will turn things down rather than oversubscribe. We moved here, I abandoned all hope of a professorship at a four-year, because we wanted to live and be happy (-er) in Portland, not so that I could become a new version of Captain McGrumpyPants. ForSOOTH!

-Captain McGrumpyPants