Sunday, April 29, 2007

Décor

I've spent most of today cleaning up the place. Each time I spend a day working on the place I feel like I'm "almost done," and then I find a way to spend another day cleaning up. But, I've got all of my curtains up now, so I don't have to be paranoid about being watched anymore, and the living room and dining room are all cleaned up. I've got some paintings up on the wall, and another nice piece of art being framed. My last piece of furniture arrives next Saturday.

It's all coming together. I hope to not pin another curtain for as long as I live. And, I don't know how many more weekends I can lose before I go insane. I need weekends to unwind, and that's not happening, so the stress level is building...

I'm also accumulating a formidable pile of trash outside. I still don't have trash pickup service or a trash can yet, so I just have a heap next to my stuffed recycle bin. Luckily, there is one side of my place that you can only see from an abandoned parking lot, so it all goes there.


Currently listening: Enya—Athair Ar Neamh

Email to go

A lot of people I know have Smartphones and constant, 24/7 email and web access. As much as I love the internet, these devices and services have no appeal to me. Just about everywhere I go has a computer with a broadband connection within easy access. I get up, turn on my computer, go to work, sit in front of a bunch of computers all day with a remote desktop connection open to my home computer, go home, and then spend another half the night on average in front of my home computer. Except when sleeping, there are just a few hours each day when I'm not in front of a computer. I don't see why I'd really want or need more email than that.

Eau de Nursing Home

I have unpleasantly dry, cracked feet, so I've started using this foot balm that claims to heal said condition. I haven't been using it long enough to notice effects yet, but one thing I have noticed is that it smells pretty much exactly like a nursing home. You can't wash it off your hands, so right now my hands smell like a nursing home too. Fantastic.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Street legal

This week I've been taking advantage of the fact that my Segway is technically street legal. At one point on the way to work, there's no sidewalk that I can use right now; they're all torn up. So, at some point, I just peel off and get on the road, and drive there for a couple blocks. It's unfortunate, as I can't go as fast as the other traffic, especially uphill, but it's a heavy construction area so everyone's going slowly anyway, and I don't have much of a choice. Any other way to the office that I can think of could increase my total commute by more than half due to the lack of through streets, so until they clean up one of the sidewalks, people are just going to have to deal.

Admittedly, it's kind of fun to ride my Segway on the streets.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

You know you're an internet shopper when...

...the FedEx guy looks at your name on the label and says "Hey, you just moved here from Avalon on 156th. Nice!" (Avalon was the name of the apartment complex where I used to live.)


Currently listening: Enya—Miss Clare Remembers

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bambi

I went to a four-hour mini-workshop on portrait photography tonight, and it was really enjoyable. Bambi Cantrell, 2003 photographer of the year for the United Nations and winner of a lifetime achievement award from the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, taught the class. She's a great speaker, and had lots of interesting little tips on how to deal with lighting, posing, and communication in portrait photography—a lot of tricks on how to make large and elderly people look more flattering, for example. Toward the end, she grabbed her cameras and set up a makeshift studio, and showed us all how she'd photograph a model on the job. The quality of the photos she put out so effortlessly was breathtaking—we saw the pictures on the big screen a few minutes later, and each one was like a "best of" that a normal person would put in their portfolio. She quickly turned the most boring, poorly-lit corners of a drab building into beautiful backdrops.

It's just amazing and humbling to see someone who's so, so much better than you will ever be working and explaining what they're doing as if it were the most simple, obvious thing in the world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pet peeves

Pet peeve: Upside-down light switches. Up means on. What kind of electrician screws this up?

Bad enough: Dual light switches, where the light is on if switch 1 XOR switch 2 is up.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blessed

Blessed be those who beareth gifts of Cadbury's Mini Eggs for their friends.

Mein keychain ist lighter

I've turned in the keys for my apartment, and the last of my belongings are in my new house. It is a happy feeling.

Dislikes

I dislike it when I pour myself a glass of warm water and it looks milky for a minute because it's full of air bubbles.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Security is serious business

At Levitz yesterday, while the trainee was ringing up my new couch and coffee table and paintings, a supervisor password confirmation dialog appeared on her screen. Her supervisor leaned over, typed in the password, and then explained to her, "Always make sure to pick a really easy password. You have to enter a lot, so make it something like mine. Did you see it? It's just five L's."

Normally I'd balk at such an insecure password (and announcing it to your coworkers and customers), but after seeing their system, I don't think anyone else knowing the right password would do them any good. They had Windows 95 terminals backed by some Oracle database, which I only know because "Oracle" showed up on every screen. To get from each screen to the next you had to either tab to the right barely-labeled field on the screen and type in an alphanumeric code, or press one of the F-keys to get to the previous or next screen in a series. (For example, the code to print a copy of a receipt was, I believe, SORW.) It was horriffic. Things like that are why normal people are scared of computers.

The supervisor was the same person who sold me my dining room and bedroom furniture three years ago. She remembered me. That's service.

Hot men, with convenient home delivery

I'm doing laundry finally, and it's glorious. My washer and dryer arrived yesterday evening. I've saved up four very full loads, enough that I probably could have sorted my laundry by the wavelength of the color they reflect on the color spectrum instead of just "lights and darks." (Four loads may not be much for many people, but it's basically my entire wardrobe, at least the parts that are in standard rotation.)

Before the delivery guys left yesterday, they gave me a card with an URL and a code so that I could fill out a Best Buy survey for a chance to win $10,000. The guy said that high ratings reflected well on them, and they were friendly and did a fine job installing, so I figured I'd fill it out.

So, I'm filling out a few multiple-choice questions, and then I get to this one (paraphrased):

Rate the attractiveness of the delivery crew.

This question caught me off guard. Was this a perk I was paying extra for by going through Best Buy? Other things I rated were no doubt things that affected the cost of the service, like responsiveness of the crew, and availability of customer support representatives; this one too? These guys were pretty hot. If this were hotornot.com, one was a 9 and one was a 10—wait; I'm stopping this paragraph before it gets out of control.

(I assume that the question was really trying to ask if their uniforms were clean and so forth.)

I suppose women are the unfair-stereotypical consumers of home appliances. And, I suppose there's no reason that pool maintenance men should have a monopoly on titillating desperate housewives. After all, not everyone can afford a pool, but everyone needs home appliances.

Maybe Home Depot only hires surly men, who would no doubt be cheaper, and they would have passed the savings on to me. Oh well, it's too late to think of these things now. I have the ability to do laundry again, and this makes me happy. My TV stand arrived, and my friend Jim and I traded help assembling stands and moving TVs last night. I have a couch arriving tomorrow, and more curtains arriving next week, and then my living room will be essentially complete.


Currently listening: Keane—Nothing in My Way

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Unclean

Well, my washer and dryer did not arrive on Sunday as planned. The dryer was half an inch too big to fit through my bathroom door (the washer and dryer are going in the entry bathroom). I ordered a new pair, and they're set to arrive this Friday.

There's something demoralizing about not having a washer and dryer, at least for me. After a couple weeks since the last time you did laundry you're starting to get into the clothes you never wear. There's no pleasant sense of newness, and no sense that this is a shirt you've worn a hundred times and it feels like home—it's slightly weird and alien. I don't like it. Louise was gracious enough to let me toss a load of laundry in at my old apartment yesterday, so I now have things to wear this week that I actually want to wear. It's much nicer.

I also finally got my vacuum over to the new house, after finishing my cleanup at the old apartment. This was another source of constant irritation for me. It's probably been months since this place has been vacuumed, and I'm used to doing it once a week. There are specks of junk everywhere from the move-in process, and it's dusty. It's a hundred little things that really get at me and make the new place seem foreign to me.

Soon, though, it will be my only home, and all of these nitpicky things will be gone, and it will be comfortable. I've finished most of my repair-type things at this point, more curtains and hardware are on order, and I've cleared out much of the living room box pile. It's getting there. Just about all that's left for me now is to pick out a couch. Once everything arrives and I get it all installed, then the new house will look like a home, and then I will feel much, much better.


Currently listening: Amon Tobin—Esther's

Monday, April 16, 2007

Copper pubes

I'm sitting here cutting the plastic off the ends of my speaker wire, and I accidentally cut too far on one, cutting through the copper wires inside. No problem; I continue cutting until I've prepared both ends. Now I decide that I want both the positive and negative channels to be the same length, so I cut off the last inch of the longer one...

...and suddenly I'm showered in copper pubes. It was so unexpected. One second I'm cutting, and the next a pile of copper curls explode in my face. They weren't even curly to begin with; they were totally flat and straight until I cut them off. It's like they had waited their entire existence to jump in my face and make me laugh... prowling inside that plastic sheath... ready to pounce.

They're everywhere, and they cling to fabric. I can't get them off.


Currently listening: Keane—Atlantic

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Solitude

One thing I really like about the new place is that it's quiet. It's more than quiet; it's basically silent. The only things I hear are my own noises. I have few neighbors, and they're all old people, and on the other side of me is an empty lot and then wetlands. It's wonderful, and when I ever move, I'm sure it's a quality I'll undervalue in this place.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Puns

Today I wore a melon and maroon-striped shirt for the first time. It is... admittedly bright. People reacted at lunch:

Eric: Wow, did it just get warmer in here? I feel like it's three or four degrees warmer just by looking at you.
Me: Are you saying I'm hot?
Matt: No, he's saying that it seems like it's warmer in here because your shirt is flaming.
Me: Haha. No, it seems like it's warmer in here 'cause I just got burned.

After lunch another of my coworkers expressed his feelings for my shirt with a hand-drawn Tablet PC instant message:

Drawing of me and my shirt

Okay, I get the picture.

Hey, that drawing makes me look like I'm twelve stories tall, made of radiation.

Unnecessary

When I'm on my Segway, most of the time it's actually harder for me to go through doors when other people are holding them open for me, because I'm not used to that. I normally open them myself, so when other people do it throws me off. I imagine people in wheelchairs must feel the same way.

But, it seems like it would be rude to inform people who are holding the door of this, so I keep it to myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Safeway is looking out for my health

Sadly, Safeway is already completely out of stock of Cadbury's Mini Eggs. (Not to be confused with the over-the-top Cadbury's Crème Eggs that you can hardly eat in one sitting...) These are possibly my favorite mass-produced candy ever, and it's sad that they're only available twice a year (now at Christmas too). I had ordered a few bags so that I'd have them around at various times of year. I suppose it's probably best for my health that they were out of stock...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

High standards

The short version:
Brazilian Girls—Talk to la Bomb: 6/10
Delerium—Nuages du Monde: 8/10
Amon Tobin—Foley Room: 8/10
Air—Pocket Symphony: 9/10


Thanks to all of the painting, packing, and so forth, I've had plenty of time to explore some new CDs, several more worthwhile purchases. In fact, these four are pretty unusual in that I like every track on all four CDs enough to add it to my main playlist.

First is the sophomore Brazilian Girls CD, Talk to la Bomb. I really liked the first Brazilian Girls CD; it was an unexpected gem oozing with cool. Unfortunately, some of the magic is lost here. None of the best songs here—Jique, Last Call, and Sexy Asshole—are as great as the best songs from their previous album, such as Homme, Corner Store, and Long. It's a decent CD, but not great. Fans of the previous Brazilian Girls album should still check it out, but you might be disappointed. I think that the All Music Guide review is right on the money—it sounds like a collection of B-sides from the first album.

Next up is Nuages du Monde (Clouds of the World) by one of my favorites, Delerium. This is a great CD, but their last album was an absolutely phenomenal 10/10, so it's tough to properly set expectations. There are plenty of great tracks on this disc, even though it just doesn't match Chimera in quality. My favorites here are Lost and Found (featuring Jaël), Tectonic Shift, and Lumenis (featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian of Lord of the Rings fame), all great. Delerium does the weird "world music plus pop plus electronica" genre best, and it's definitely worth picking this one up.

After that was Amon Tobin's latest, Foley Room. I've been waiting for this one for a while, and it's another good one. But, you should be seeing a theme here—I hold Amon Tobin to incredibly high standards, and this just isn't as great as his previous work. This disc contains some of Amon Tobin's weirdest, most "noisy" tracks, in definite contrast with his last album Chaos Theory, which was much more cinematic and melodic. That's not a fault, but overall the album just isn't as fun to listen to as Chaos Theory or his older stuff. But, as I said, it's still good, and it's worth checking out keepers such as Always, Bloodstone (featuring the Kronos Quartet), and Esther's.

Finally, I've saved the best for last. I've been wanting to check out the French band Air for a long time now, and I finally got around to ordering their most famous CD, Moon Safari, from which I'd already heard a few tracks, and Pocket Symphony, their latest CD. I'll be buying more soon—this is an excellent album. I'd still classify it as electronic, especially given their other work, but it's still very natural and warm-sounding, with lots of real instruments and sounds. This disc sounds a lot like Zero 7, even if my favorites don't quite show it—Space Maker (:30 sample), Once upon a Time (:30 sample), and Napalm Love (:30 sample). Definitely worth a listen.


The first single from the upcoming Linkin Park album is out, What I've Done. It's a new, softer, even more pop-friendly Linkin Park. (The screaming has been replaced with regular yelling.) That should be fun. (May 15)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

110% exhausted

I can't remember the last time I've been this exhausted. But, I'm moved. My living room is so packed with boxes I can hardly make it to the kitchen, and I've got the next several days ahead of me planned out.

Three homes, one truck, one day.

The big day

My large furniture is already in my new home, but my boxes of stuff are still all in my old apartment. Today is the day that hopefully they make it to my new place. I'm third in line of the three families/people moving together today, so I may get screwed. Let's hope not.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Things I wish I'd have brought

Things I wish I'd have brought from my old place when I moved to the new one:

A shower curtain. Showering without a curtain, trying very hard not to soak the place, is quite a challenge.

Soap. I brought one bar of soap for the whole place when I first got the keys, and forgot to bring more upon actually moving in. Now the whole house shares a single bar of soap.

Curse you, Google

Crap, I just noticed that Google deleted all of the photos that I uploaded a while back when I was on a photo-posting spree.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A feature I could live without

One exciting feature that my new place shares with my old one is that it takes about twenty seconds to get warm water from a faucet. (Also, the water tastes nasty, just like everywhere else in this state.)

Do only houses in Nebraska have warm water on-demand?


Currently listening: Air—Napalm Love (:30 sample)
(Try Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping if you want a full track.)

Riding a Segway is an invitation for others to be weird too

Owning a Segway is weird. It's also, it seems, an invitation for others to be weird.

Today as I was heading from my apartment to my new home to meet the movers there, I was waiting at a crosswalk, and suddenly a guy on a motorcycle in the left turn lane waved, looked to see if it was safe, and then rode his motorcycle right onto the sidewalk and stopped next to me to ask me about the Segway.

Maybe where you live it's normal for people on motorcycles to drive onto sidewalks from the street, but here, that qualifies as weird.

Relocated

Well, I've done it. I've moved. My newly-purchased home is really my new home.

Of course, I've still got dozens of boxes of stuff in my old place. But, as they say, home is where the computer is.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Going dark

My main PC is now offline, and I'm working off of my tablet. It's always a scary situation. I feel like I'm missing a limb.

Monday, April 2, 2007

My head

Whoever decided that regular homes should have chandeliers is an idiot, and I want to kick him in the balls. In a formal setting in an expensive home, high above the ground, a chandelier looks nice. But now every dining room has one, set impossibly low to the ground. This is just a terrible idea.

Cheap chandeliers that don't cost thousands and thousands of dollars look tacky and horrid.

The light is unattractive and uneven, and the lights are usually right at eye level.

People hit their heads on them because they're always installed too low. Just in the past few weeks I've hit my head on the chandelier in my new place two dozen times, and broken a few lightbulbs in the process. Sure, it will get better once I have a table beneath it, but it's still dumb.

Chandeliers are awful. Someday I'm going to get rid of the one in my new place and put in a light that isn't stupid.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sneezing

Sometimes when I sneeze, I sneeze so hard that both of my arms hurt for several minutes. I don't know why it's always my arms, but it is. It's not a mild pain, either; it's a sharp, prickly, distracting pain. It's very strange, and it's only been happening for the last few years or so.

Giving up

After finishing my living room and dining room tonight (thanks Louise), I've decided not to paint any more rooms in my place just yet. Sometime in the next few months I'll repaint my computer room, as I can move the furniture there by myself, but I don't know when I'll ever get around to my bedroom—unfortunately I already bought the paint for both of those rooms. My furniture arrives on Wednesday, and that just doesn't leave me enough time to finish painting (and taping, and cleaning up, and other prep...). I'd rather have an all-white room than an unfinished room.

I've still got plenty of packing to do, much of which can't really happen too early, like my computer—I can't live without that.

This week's going to be intense. I'm already going to be swamped at work, and I've got to prepare to move during the first half of the week, on Wednesday my furniture is moved and I'm going to start living at the new place and visiting the old one instead of vice-versa, and the rest of the week I'll be getting settled in my new home and getting ready to accept stacks and stacks of boxes this weekend.

I'm already exhausted.