Monthly Archives: September 2007

How Not to Ruin Your Life…

Same as many people my age, Ben Stein first came into my life not as a Nixon speechwriter/lawyer/cultist, but as Ferris Bueller’s Econ teacher, and then Fred Savage’s overmorose history teacher in The Wonder Years. I guess it makes sense that I was lulled into a false security by his amusing facade. Win Ben Stein’s Money, the Visene commercials, it was easy to think of him as sort of an uncle figure. Amusing, dry delivery, all around good guy, right?

So, when I heard he produced personal finance columns for Yahoo! I was naturally excited. I read them feverishly, savoring the occasional advice and theory of his wealth philosophy. I bought a copy of his retirement book for my father. I ignored the occasional retrospective of his role in and continued defense of a presidential regime that, at the time, had no rival to it’s paranoiac levels of secrecy, public and media exclusion, and destruction of personal liberty. I read about his troubles with American Airlines, and his issues trying to buy a new Cadillac. And, as the market started to falter, I read about his increasingly vague and dime store advice about the market (in short, buy low, sell high. Invest in the long term.).

But then I heard about Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and thought I should take a look at it. At first, it looked like the same old tired donkey that everyone trots out about Intelligent Design. Evolution doesn’t explain everything perfectly. Evolution is just a theory. Evolution has holes in it. Evolution isn’t exact. Evolution had to start somewhere (Pro Tip : this is one of the few ideas that I’ll entertain conversation on, in case you ever want to talk to me about how you think God works). We’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we throw God out of science. My response to this is always going to be the same. OK. We accept that we should teach creationism as an alternate theory to evolution. We can’t give it equal time, because in all reality, all of your dipshit creationism comes down to two sentences. Big super thing exists. Big super thing makes everything else. Anything taught in a classroom beyond that will be unfairly tilted towards one religion or another, and while I’m sure you’d be fine with it being heavy on whatever brand of faith you have, you probably wouldn’t like it if the teacher went heavy on the Islam, Bokonon, or Pastafari. Being a creature gifted with the ability to put himself in another persons shoes (one of the advanced features of the human brain that a lot of people don’t fucking use) you should be able to see how this can be upsetting. Nobody wants their kids learning someone elses religion, everybody wants them to be able to get a good job, so shut your fucking whine hole.

We’ll see how the movie plays out, I’m interested to see it, because I’d like to see someone make an argument for intelligent design that wasn’t simply a feint around their own personal faith, but given Ben Stein’s history of unending faith (in Nixon), I am not hopeful that this will be the movie that does it.

Ubuntu Gutsy Beta

Well, I promised there would be a couple posts not entirely dedicated to Linux and there were, so suck it.

I have a Linksys WRT54G v4 wireless card (as it is very difficult to get ethernet run to my bedroom) in my desktop, and I was initially unable to connect to the network, since I had it set up with WPA. The wpa_supplicant project is piss poorly documented and it seems that the general perspective on connecting to wireless with Ubuntu’s built in gnome network manager is to just disable WPA and go back to WEP. I was unsatisfied with this, being at least moderately interested in some kind of security up in this bitch. So I looked around for other options. It turns out that for some reason you can use iwconfig commands in the /etc/network/interfaces file and get it to work (which begs the question why you couldn’t get it to work in network manager), but this left me fucked and editing the file and rebooting whenever we had to modify the wireless, and it prevented me from being able to connect easily to other networks, or ad hoc to my phone, which I do sometimes (why the phone doesn’t support WPA, I don’t know.).

So, eventually some googling found the option to use the back-ported kernel from the upcoming Gutsy Gibbon “tribe” release (which is as far as I can tell code for beta). Reboot, BAM. I can connect to it through the network manager. This did, however, leave me with “updates” to the Feisty kernel that would not update, and no version locking or whatever in Synaptic seemed to nail it down and make it leave me alone.

This, combined with the fact that I was still using an IDE hard drive (the cheap ECS K8T890 motherboard I got with my AMD x2 3800 didn’t like my old SATA drive), and the fact that Fargo was making fun of me for running 32 bit Ubuntu on my x64 capable machine, inspired me to go ahead and grab an SATA drive (the better to upgrade my system to a newer motherboard and proc later with my dear), the brand new Gutsy Gibbon “beta” (which as far as I can tell is code for release candidate), and make the plunge.

The install was as Ubuntu as you get. Click, click, duh, click. I went in and made my (also Fargo-unapproved) /, swap, and /home physical partitions on the disk (80,2, whatever the rest of 320 mebi comes out to, if you were wondering), and installed the system. A reboot, click click click, enable some restricted drivers (nvidia), badabing, we’re in business. I was even able to connect to my wireless network and surf the web in honest to jesus Firefox during the install (nerdgasm).

Kinda.

Here’s where the “beta” bit comes in. I went to install some software from apt, and it finished, but indicated there were seven packages that were “untouched”, which was odd. So I figured some updates weren’t installed, and opened the update manager. It indicated there were more than a hundred updates to install, so I figured on letting it run, but it kept erroring out on some strange “repository error unexpected end of file” thing. I tried changing repository location in kind of a halfassed way, but didn’t have any luck. I went to the command line again and did a ‘sudo apt-get install -f’ to see if that would clear it up, but it would give an error about the postconfig on a package called “volumeid”. I looked around on launchpad and found out it was fixable. I installed a patch file that was floating around on the post config for volumeid and we were back in business.

Kinda.

See, the Update Manager was still showing the same error. I went back to apt and tried a couple things, but ultimately I figured it must have been a repo issue and I should instead work on getting fun stuff working like my Virtualbox, wine, Amarok, but more specifically, the brand new version of Compiz that was included with this release. Holy shit, it is absolutely amazing. I played with it for about an hour and then played with it for about another hour, and then for another, and finally collapsed into bed.

I woke up, and noticed that the repository issues seemed to be all fixed. Went ahead and installed 90 or so more updates, and rebooted. Everything came back up just fine.

Kinda.

See, for some reason after this reboot, my xorg.conf got changed, and I ended up with some random modeline on my monitor that set it to 640×480. I had to go in and fix that shit (copied xorg.conf.1 to xorg.conf) and reboot again. Bam, we’re back in business. I mount my old hard drive and start copying my home directory over. It got my firefox profile, it got my Virtualbox machines (which was fucking awesome, even if I did have to “discard the saved state” on them), my Amarok settings (had to set up PostgreSQL again, but that was expected). I got it all done and then rebooted again. Logged in and then… well shit.

For some reason I had forgotten to remove the “session” stuff, and it was trying to a) launch beryl and b) launch some programs I hadn’t installed yet. Eech. It made the video look all weird (big borders around the edge and the wiggle effect was nonstop). Deleted my .beryl folder, removed beryl from my session, restarted X. Much better. Now, I am as happy as a damned clam. Still pretty beta, but the advances between Feisty and Gutsy are pretty significant.

Dramatis Personal

I’ve been putting off this post for a while, and if you don’t know me personally, you should probably skip it. I’m not going to call any politicians mush heads or write about low key interactions with archetypal waitresses from my youth. Matter of fact, I’m gonna suggest you all go check out Stephen Fry’s great piece in which he disintegrates Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code without once referring to him as a “retarded fag whose shit is all fucked up”, a skill which I have yet to master. While you do that, I’ll be here having a pity party for myself and we’ll all get the better end of the deal. Those of you who do know me personally should probably skip this too because you might be pissed off by the end of it.

Setting boundaries. Never done it, never had the skill or the willpower. If I say no, it’s either a violent explosive thing after days of being at my limit. And even then, if the Explosive-No doesn’t cause the requestor to stop asking, I’ll probably buckle again later.

Here’s the basic steps when someone wants me to do something I have either no interest in doing or no ability to do.

  1. The Idea. The Requestor creates The Idea. The Idea sounds great, because The Idea is gonna solve everybody’s problems. The Idea is gonna save their ass. The Idea is going to be the big ticket outta shit town and on into some beautiful moment. The Idea is gonna save everyone money. The Idea is gonna make it all OK.
  2. The Approach. The Requestor comes to me with The Idea, and talks about it in vague terms. Once The Idea is posited, it is slowly but surely morphed from The Idea to Our Project. Despite my lack of interest in The Idea, I have now become entirely complicit in Our Project, which typically involves someone elses idea and my labor/money/skills. No at this point isn’t ever accepted as a No, it’s just me telling the Requestor that they need to rewrite their Approach as a challenge to my skills, a great investment, a simple fact of life that must be done, or as a favor they’re doing me. To curb this constant assault, I halfassedly agree with how great The Idea is, maybe even offer some feedback on elements of The Idea, which is interpreted as a commitment to Our Project.
  3. The Evolution. Our Project – whether or not it started as urgent – suddenly becomes urgent. There are now timelines involved, because if we don’t get Our Project underway, it’s gonna be late, and then we’re all gonna be screwed. We’re all gonna die, Our Project is the only lifeline. Typically this is a 10PM conversation on a night that there is no way to advance Our Project, this is purely a maneuver to remind me how important Our Project is. At this point, I commit to Our Project by offering Future Anything in exchange for being left alone now. My typical response is “Give me a call when you want to get started on that.” At this point I am Committed.
  4. The Backlash. Our Project is now behind. The Requestor went to the trouble of the 10PM call and I didn’t do anything about it. My commitment to Our Project is now in question and we are all on the verge of being screwed again, or better yet, we’ve been screwed for weeks and The Requestor has been keeping the wolves at bay, without any help from me thankyouverymuch. This devolves into a “What do you need me to hold your hand through this whole thing? It’s pretty fuckin’ simple, you agreed to do this and now we’re behind. What the fuck, get it together man.” shakedown. This can happen maybe six or seven times over the course of weeks, with Action Items that run the gamut from not personally interesting all the way ridiculously vague. “Learn to program”, “Learn how to Invest in the Stock Market so you can teach me”, “Fix that problem that I never told you about and cannot define”, “Commit to this expense that we will split”, “Find a Girl to Marry”, “Develop an interest in X so we can discuss it”, “Find me attractive”.
  5. The Decision. Confronted with this burden of an entirely thankless task that inspires no passion in me whatsoever for the eighteenth time, I finally make a Decision on it. This isn’t a one day task, it’s usually weeks of hemming and hawing, working myself up into a nervous frenzy about it, getting angry, playing out the conversation in my head where I finally confront The Requestor and tell them that I think Our Project is really Their Project and they should go ahead and run with it, because I have zero interest. I get angrier and angrier about it until I finally am keeping myself up at night. All day I avoid confronting it, and at night it gets up on top of me and howls.
  6. The Confrontation. Inevitably, I work myself into a frenzy about this and there can be no other way, I have to say No. But regular No isn’t going to make the impression I need, because as obvioused by my earlier No eventually crumbling, I need to make this the Explosive No. The No heard round the world. There will be another 10PM Call, and then I let them have it with both barrels. WHAM. Sideswiped. Since they haven’t been seeing my inaction as disinterest, and my earlier negativity is forgotten because of the excitement of me giving them input about The Idea, they don’t understand what happened at all, and I am in no condition to explain it. Unable to articulate the depth of my anger, there is no catharsis in this and I am still absolutely fuming when I slam down the phone/finish the screeching/slam the door/drive away. The Requestor sees this purely as me being rude, lazy, violent, and usually can’t figure out why I’d leave them in a lurch on Our Project, especially because now we’re screwed.
  7. The Apology. I will inevitably calm down and panic about what I’ve done to this poor innocent person who only wanted a little of my help and I will come back and make The Apology. And I will invariably recommit to Our Project, this time swearing to myself that even if it fucking takes every god damned moment of my time I will make this happen because by God, The Requestor is a Friend/Relative/Loved One and deserves it. Since this makes more sense to The Requestor than my Explosive No, they see this Apology as a confirmation, a total acknowledgement of my initial commitment to Our Project.
  8. The whole thing cycles back to The Evolution, and repeats.

I’ve often tried to analyze why I react the way I do when people ask me for help that I cannot give or time/energy I don’t want to commit, and come up with some scraps, but no complete thread. Part of it is that I crave the admiration of those I help, part of it is that I am lazy, part of it is that I’m just not able to say No assertively, instead I wait until I can’t anymore and say it aggressively. I have tried several times to learn how to deal with my personal life the way I have my professional life (where I am significantly more assertive and very rarely run into this type of cycle). I strive to please people regardless of the cost, I overlook patterns in loved ones, and I always run to blame myself instead of others regardless. I have been trying to break this cycle by instead stating my position clearly during The Approach and cut it off there, but given my history with this sort of thing, it’s pretty normal for The Requestor to simply assume I’m about to come around to it like I always have before. It’s hard as hell and sometimes I wonder if I’m just not fucking saying things right.

And the response to my Assertive No isn’t any better than the Explosive No, it still leaves The Requestor with a quivery lip and once I’m past the moment all I want to do is run back and apologize so we don’t have to have this fight, so I don’t have to stay up at night and think about it, so I don’t have toss and turn at night and imagine that quivery lip split open, the eye bruised, the eyes full of fear, my fists full of power, my face like a vicious dog – all froth and teeth and righteous fury. So I don’t have to feel shame for wanting an apology. So I don’t have to worry that unless I say Yes next time I’ll die alone. So at least my ulcer will be for Them, always for Them, instead of a selfish ulcer for me.

Lots of creepy shit.

Well, isn’t this disturbing. I talked to Jackie the other day about the state of current affairs and she mentioned that she was compiling a list of bailout countries. Fargo and I have this discussion, say, three times a week now. I’m the sticky bitch on this one because I won’t live somewhere with horrendous snow, much to Fargo’s loudly-and-frequently-voiced disappointment.

I say this to those of you who live somewhere that if the fire goes out in winter you die : You should think about moving.

But for those of you who are wondering why someone would be thinking about leaving the United States, grand and beaming light of liberty it is, here’s a short list.

  • Despite the distinct absence of Tipper Gore, this fucking charade is still going on. I hope to christ that at some point these fucking retards win and manage to overturn free speech. Then maybe someone will pay attention to the fact that nagging morality police have slowly been chiseling away the liberty that this country was founded upon and replacing it with a dried sputum of half-chewed morality and holier-than-thou philosophy.
  • Four named states are considering this to be an awesome idea. You see, when they said they were putting in gasoline taxes with an ecological objective (reducing the usage of gas, dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse emissions) what they meant to say was they were putting in taxes wherever they could cram them for reasons I can only guess at(need a new olympic sized pool, not enough hookers, cocaine is just not doing it like it used to). Why the fuck not, right? I love that this idea of taxation actually punishes those who buy more efficient vehicles too. I guess that’s so we can bail out American auto manufacturers who routinely sell themselves down the river and wait for a tax money bustout to save them.
  • I was initially amused at how idiotic this was. But then I realized that this wasn’t some hillbilly asshole mayor trying to clean up his wastoid white trash shithole so it’s safe for his inbred monkey children, it was a fucking US Congressman. Here’s a hint asshole. Get on a plane. Go to Iraq. Walk around outside the green zone without a fucking platoon of soldiers protecting your mushy fucking head. The whole time, think to yourself “Which should I be concentrating on, this mess here, or bumper nuts.” If you still think it’s time for Bumper Nut legislation, take off the helmet and vest and walk around some more. Eventually you’ll come around to my way of thinking.
  • We have already discussed the “De Negrofication plan

So, that covers a wide variety of issues I have with the ‘way shit is headed’.

I would also not like to live anywhere that has a significant risk of say, Jihad or other holy crusade, or of contracting the AIDS on a streetcorner. I’m mildly OK with military juntas, but the AIDS thing rules out most of Africa. I’m not fond of socializing every industry, so Venezuela is out, and I’m not sold on the rest of South America, they’re on the list, but no big benefits. Plus my Spanish is awful.

So I suggested Germany and Fargo said it was too expensive, and we got into an argument about how big it was. Then we started looking at Google Earth and I was trying to figure out how to lock the axis so the north pole is always up and I freaked out about it a little, and then I suggested Madagascar. I initially thought of it as a third world country on it’s way to second world, but then I read some more about it and realized it’s a third world country on it’s way to… a third century of third world status. Less than 1% of houses have PHONE LINES. So… yuck. Blogging from a mud hut. And Fargo finally brings up New Zealand. I’ve heard of the place, my great aunt and uncle lived there for a while. Their kids still live there, I think. And that hot ass chick from Death Proof was from there. I figured it was like Australia’s Portugal, pretty much just independent because there hasn’t ever been a run on natural resources from one to the other. Then I see this. They put up a fucking wiki to get input on a law. Insanity. And compared to the US State Department’s blog (which doesn’t even have a full text feed. Seriously you guys. Seriously.) which reeks of jumping on the buggy two years too late, a government policy wiki sounds like some sort of future utopia.

So, New Zealand… how much AIDS / snow (or AIDSnow, I guess if that exists) do you get down there?

Speaking of…

Speaking of RSS feeds which are making a weekly creep for unsubscribedville, let’s talk about Life Hacker.

About a year ago, I was looking at Make magazine (which is about 20% cream, 80% crap) and Instructables (which is about 10% cream, 90% crap) and found some references to Life Hacker. The super l33t proxy at work picked up the word “hacker” in the URL and categorized it as “Blocked : Criminal Skills” but I decided to check it out at home. It was pretty good stuff. Make a $5 pen into a $100 pen. Couple of great pieces of software (if you’re using Windows and not using Launchy or some other shortcut macro type thing, you’re missing out). Some website help (specifically WordPress plugins that I use to this day). In all, a great site. Totally subscribed. A while back, they (along with the rest of Gawker) got on some serious search engine optimization shit and fucked up their site pretty good, lots of self-referencing posts and tag keyword shit, but it was OK, I started using Yahoo! Pipes to filter the crap out (Roundups, a year ago, the ‘quick hits’ and a series of other retarded stuff), and I was back to happy again. Lately though, I’ve run into… problems.

You see, you can filter nonsense fluff posts out, “best comments” and the like. But you can’t filter out totally fucking worthless advice (unless they started tagging it, Lifehacker, if you are listening, just start tagging your really lame posts with “lamezor”). Here are a couple of real honest to god posts and notable quotes from Lifehacker recently.

Write Specific To-Dos for your Future Self
Do the Most Important Task First
Use a rubber band to keep an apple fresh
Send documents as PDF rather than fax
Temporarily attach documents with a staple”
Silence noisy velcro with duct tape

WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU.
Who in this day and fucking age doesn’t know that a PDF is better than a fax. Or the staple article, which was even MORE retarded than the title (no mean feat), as it required a old fashioned stapler to make work. Do the most important task first? What the hell is wrong with you? Did someone suddenly disappear Common Sense? Drag it down an alleyway and beat it with a sock full of rubberbanded apples?

Here’s a couple suggestions for future lifehacker articles.

“Legs tired? Sit in a chair instead for a quick medical hack.”
“Use a heavy rock or brick in place of a hammer.”
“If your eyes are closing all by themselves, you might be tired. Naps are a quick cure.”
“Cold? Look for a blanket or some peat to crawl under.”
“Juggling doesn’t require expensive gear, regular fruit can substitute.”
“Use a telephone to communicate with people far away instead of walking to them.”
“Productivity Time! Start working now and stop when tasks are complete.”
“Sandwiches are a big time saver because you don’t have to touch the meat with your hands.”

The IT Crowd

Boing Boing is notorious for being overwhelmingly supportive of half-assed ideas simply because of their commitment to copyright reform. This is a fact, and I can back it up with proof.

The IT Crowd. Go download a copy of season 2 episode 5 or watch it on BBC’s website. I’ll wait.

I know I didn’t have to wait long, you guys all checked out about 7 minutes in didn’t you. Maybe you left it running in the background or something you can go ahead and stop it or close it. It’s not getting any better. What part of the show offended you the most?

I’m going to go with the fact that it wasn’t funny in the fucking slightest, but I’m willing to pay attention to other theories.

Boing Boing posts about this show EVERY WEEK. EACH EPISODE is cause for a post about how funny the show is.

However – as you have just seen, from the ‘oh that is so wacky that dude has LIPSTICK on’ gag that lasts 5 fucking minutes to ‘nerd guys can’t say the word bra without passing out’ bit that somehow feels like it is still going on in my brain, in the place that makes hate, that cries for cleansing fire, that wants to douche the world with bleach : It is quite clear that this show sucks three dicks taped together.

Financial Review

So, the fed cut 50 base points and the stock market went totally apeshit. The up shot is that the last recorded 4.8% return on my 401k (and realistically bottomed out 2.5% return) has turned into a 7.5% return. I took the opportunity to ditch my company stock (the only individual stock in my 401k, because they only pay their 3% match out in company stock. Yeah. Awesome.) and roll that money into the VIIIX (Vanguard Institutional Index Plus), which I figure is a fine place for it to be. I’m also making steady progress on my car and house loans, which is pleasant to watch. I’d still like to get rid of the car loan, but progress is better than nothing.

I was talking to a couple people lately who are getting the short end of the stick on this whole sub prime thing, and I’m glad that I didn’t take a loan with the expectation that I could refinance (as I very nearly did when I was initially home shopping). The whole situation smacked a little of too-good-to-be-true, and it turns out it was. Before any of you thinks that I managed to dodge this bullet through any sort of foresight or intelligent deduction, let me assure you, this was a situation where the ground moved beneath my feet and I lucked out entirely. I was getting ready to buy a 270,000 house with my grandma (there was some talk of her helping out with the bulk of the payment, but that had eroded to ‘some’ of the payment by the time we were talking about a buy), and she died right after we had the home inspection done. Simple as that.

Any man who does not credit luck with a role in his success is either profoundly vain or profoundly nearsighted, and in either case is profoundly wrong.

Project Gotham Skin fo lyfe.

I’ve been thinking about buying a Wii or an Xbox360 for a while now (Sorry, Sony) but I think about it and a couple problems keep stopping me.

First off, I think to really appreciate a 360 I’d have to have an HDTV. I know that there have been some technical problems with certain games (Dead Rising notably) on regular analog sets, and I know that the Wii really doesn’t require HD for fun. But my 27″ Symphonic from Wal Mart’s blitz circa 2002 is old and kind of crusty, and I think I am prepared to make the HD leap.

Secondly, Xbox Media Center. If anyone out there has used it, they know what I mean. There is nothing more satisfying to me than using my remote and the Xbox to watch some old TV shows or movies from my file server. It starts up relatively quickly (longer than a DVD player, shorter than an HTPC), and is nicely customizable. I can still use the Xbox to play games (single player only), I can run emulators for old games, I can listen to MP3s on it. I use it every day. It eventually usurped all TV time, because it’s so convenient to be able to pause stuff, watch stuff in just about any format, set bookmarks if I want to stop and start up later. It’s one of the most perfectly designed hardware/software solutions I’ve ever used.

However, despite the fact that everyone I’ve talked to that uses XBMC sees the genius of the package, and overlooks some pretty significant problems with it (inability to turn device on from the remote, technical knowledge and bullshit required to get working in the first place), no commercial company has taken any fucking notice. Brad correctly stated “seems like there should be a $50 chinese thing that would connect to my network and play divx”. But there isn’t. There are media extenders out there that either rely purely on your computer streaming shit to it, or they have bizzaro world format restrictions. Plus they all cost more than the Xbox, even when you factor in a larger hard drive (which isn’t necessary because it plays videos from any windows share, FTP share, NFS share, pocket lint based connection, 3D video cube, or long chain protein biometric storage device). What in the hell are you doing guys? I’d buy 3 right now, one for me, one for my sister, and one for my folks, as long as it has an HDMI out option, can power on from the remote, and retailed for about $100.

Here you go guys, I’m gonna lay it out for you.

480i/480p/720p/1080i output.
Divx/Xvid, AVI, and MP3 compatibility.
Ability to hook to a wired network with a wireless option.
Doesn’t require PC software to stream video to it, just connects to network shares or USB attached storage.
Retails around $100.

I’ll take five.

Double Time

Not to be outdone, Hannah Aviva, who was my high school sweetheart, has located a series of ever more embarassing pictures of me from our time together. I’ll comment on them in line.

This is Hannah. She says that she told me to take the picture at this odd angle, and that might be true, but I had a “thing” for taking pictures of people at odd angles. This is during a day trip we took up to Jerome. Note the braids, they were melted at the ends, which made these tiny quiet clicks when she moved. Sometimes they would get caught on the polyester clothes that both of us wore much of the time.

This picture was taken at Kitt Peak observatory by Hannah’s mom. That is her sister Audrey on the left. We drove down in their silver Ford Taurus holding hands in the back seat the whole way. We stopped in Tucson and drove to the Popeyes Chicken near U of A. This was the first time I ever had Popeyes biscuits and red beans and rice. It would not be the last. I would drive over a box of kittens for another pair of those Adidas shoes. Note the significant paleness of the shoulders. Hannah did not wear tank tops often. Regardless of her worries that I looked so happy in my picture with Jackie and never looked that happy with her, this was one of the nicest days I ever spent.

This was taken in the add on to the house I grew up in, it was the defacto place to hang out, as it was the only portion of the house that was air conditioned (not just evaporative cooled). This is my sister Sami aged 8 (if the date is accurate, and I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be). This is during the peak of my acne years, you can tell my my preturnatural sheen.

I dressed up a lot in these days, for reasons I can’t really recall. These were all taken by Hannah, the first two are in the addition at my house (the clip on silver lamp there was over the turtle tank), the last one appears to be the “Hotel California” from when her mom and I drove to Palm Desert California for Thanksgiving. I still have this tie, and probably the ring you see glinting there as well. The black hair was kind of a good indicator of time, because for a significant portition of our relationship, I looked like this.

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Notice the watch, which I still have (suspenders too, but I don’t really wear t hem anymore), and the hair, which looks redder in this than it really was, it was bright ass pink. Hannah’s hair was short, because she had taken the braids out to have them re-done, and somehow it got matted and she had to cut it. She freaked out pretty bad and it made me sad, but I thought it was pretty cute like this anyways. Yes, those pants are reflective on the side, I was doing a lot of my shopping at Savers “military and uniform” aisle. I was trying desperately to be cool enough to have her as my girlfriend, but I never really thought I did enough. I can still feel the slick fabric of that shirt with the stars and planets on it against my forearm, and her fingers looped through a belt loop, pulling me closer to her. I can still smell the conditioner she had in her hair. Sometimes I can still feel the hot Phoenix day melting into cool night, and smell the dusty air coming in through the window of a silver Ford Taurus bound for Boston’s. The Downward Spiral on the stereo and her holding my sweaty hand while she drives us into the darkening sky, and I remember searching my brain for something cool to say so she’d keep liking me for just one more day.

A Blast From The Past

Myspace is fantastic for a limited number of things.

One of them is finding old girlfriends. This is way better than waiting for a reunion, because most of my girlfriends weren’t in the same class as I was, and also because I can think of nothing that would make me want to pour salt in my eyes more than going to a class reunion.

There have been a lot of benefits to finding these women and talking to them, notably that I can try to apologize for the things I did when I was too retarded to understand I was being retarded, and also because I get to stalk them on the computer for a while, finding out what they do now, who they date now, if they have kids, look at the pictures they’ve immortalized online, etc. It’s kind of like the electronic equivalent of digging around in their trash for discarded hairbrushes or old t-shirts, but this is much more socially acceptable. Jackie, who was the very first girlfriend, was digging around in some old boxes and found these two pictures from when we were in junior high school.

   

Yes, I’m not sure why I’m squinting at the camera, but I do remember my ultra thin gold chain and the St. Christopher’s medallion that hung from it (this may have also been during the time when I was wearing a cross, I can’t really make it out). You see that shit eating grin on the left? That was me having a fraction of a shadow of recognition how lucky I was to be dancing with the hot number in the green dress.

Interestingly enough, I don’t remember looking like this.

I remember wanting to look like this. I remember trying to look like this, but I don’t remember looking like this at all. I have this image of myself, at almost any age, of being this overweight, greasy, pasty kid with shifty eyes and a big nose. Also in my mind I’m shorter. But in these pictures, I look downright normal. Very odd.

Also, the picture of the music room there on the right, brought this full scale memory into my head of the room, with solo practice rooms that locked from the inside. If you went to the opposite wall and opened the doors, it would open out onto the track and the bleachers for the football field, and the hot sun and dust from the gym class running laps would flood in.