Two Things Gone

Pancho’s Villa, the infamous purveyor of Robitussin refried beans and my next door neighbor, is no more. They have packed up their wares and disappeared into the night.

I have yet to determine if there is a correlation between this event and the disappearance of the Post-Yuletide tumbleweed, which was notably absent from my yard this morning. My brother suspects another of my neighbors, his brother-in-law Mark, who lives down the block and is known for being something of a prankster.

Probably a more likely culprit than either wormholes or space aliens. Less interesting, sadly, but certainly more plausible.


This is the kind of thing I have always suspected but have almost never seen reported on: “Peace: No Longer Just a Dream” is an article I read in The Week, and I think we should spread it around, mainly because the dominant 24-Hour News Machines tend to only make money on sensationalistic claptrap, and this doesn’t qualify. Some important points made by the article:

  • The number of ongoing wars throughout the world has dropped by 40 percent since the end of the Cold War, and is still declining.
  • The year 2005 had the lowest number of conflicts of any sort—wars between countries, civil wars, ethnic cleansings—since 1976.

I would go further to say that, despite what the media says about the war in Iraq, it’s not a catastrophic tragedy as wars go. Our loss of life is currently at 2,200 US troops. Vietnam was around 50,000. Yes, the war in Iraq was maddeningly unjust and poorly planned, but any comparison of it to Vietnam is flaccid. Of course, the most dangerous aspect of this war is not the blood in the field, but the sinister machinations of its genesis in Washington.

My point in all this is that I truly believe the world is continually becoming a better place, in increments too small to truly measure. Anyone who says the past was better, simpler or more peaceful is someone who hasn’t studied much history.

Random Things and The Grandiloquent Dictionary

The Grandiloquent Dictionary is a magical place to explore and to improve your vocabulary of obscure words. So far my favorite is quasihemidemisemiquaver – according to British musical notation, a 128th note. I should buy and start a guitar site for people who like to play really fast.

In other news, I noticed that the Encore movie channel has either purposefully or accidentally added older movies to their channels that have the same titles as recent movies. Twice it has happened that I have clicked on the title (AND description) of a recent movie only to find a completely different film by the same name: Jersey Girl and The Aviator. The former being a 1992 Jami Gertz/Dylan McDermott vehicle, and the latter being a 1985 Christopher Reeve/Rosanna Arquette picture. In both cases the description listed the more popular Kevin Smith and Martin Scorsese films. I’m just waiting for them to add Kicking & Screaming, because they’ll most likely not play the more recent Will Ferrell film, and I’ll get to see one of my favorite movies of all time on TV.

Last night I got my car stuck in the mud….of my driveway. It was dark, and I moved a road cone blocking my drive, assuming that it was absentmindedly left there when in fact it was put there for a very specific reason, namely the gaping, muddy hole where the skirt of my driveway once was. It was a reasonably level pit, a perfect fit for my vehicle, which was unable to jump up onto the remaining driveway, or move back up the muddy slope to the road. Fortunately for me a couple guys were still out working, paving my neighbors new driveway, and they gave me a short tow with the arm of their backhoe. I parked in the backyard. They said they should have a new driveway for me by tonight; I’ll be curious to see how that works out.

And Another Thing….

Yahoo, those sneaky bastards, let you download mp3’s with their Yahoo Music Engine, but when you go to burn a disc they’re going to tell you that there’s a burn license limit. Maybe one, maybe seven….maybe none. Damn you people. Now I have to go back to iTunes and use their weirdo format to burn CDs.


Recently I’ve had a series of pictures come up to me and demand captions.

“Goodbye cruel world!”

Must Be This Tall to Ride

“We’re getting married!!”

Microsoft Visual Studio BITES

Let it be known that Microsoft’s Visual Studio sucks the sweat off a dead camel’s back!! It has no idea how to handle CSS! It strips all td style declarations and so I have to continually redo everything whenever my developer opens my stuff in Visual Studio. It also takes the ever-elegant shorthands like “padding: 5px 10px 5px 5px” and separates them into their horrifyingly unwieldy individual components “padding-top: 5px; padding right: 10px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px.” Add to this its inability to split-view design and code and you’re talking about a piece of software that rivals NotePad for flexibility. Oh wait, NotePad wouldn’t dick around with my CSS, so it’s actually WORSE. Damn you, Bill Gates!! AAARRGGH!

The Post-Yuletide Tumbleweed?

I found this in my yard today:

Let’s do a little scientific inquiry here. Here are all the possible explanations:

I. It was put here by man.
 A. Deliberately
  1. Dumped. Unlikely as there are far better places to dump a Christmas tree.
  2. Left as a form of communication. But what? Have I offended someone?
 B. Accidentally. This is unlikely as I have not only a fence but also a virtual moat around my yard made from road work.

II. It was put here by nature.
 A. The weather today has been exceedingly windy. Perhaps it blew in from elsewhere. Unlikely, see IB.
 B. It was teleported via wormhole or some other bending of the space/time continuum.

III. It was put here by an unknown force.

I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourselves.

The Austin Mini-Travelogue

I uploaded the photos to Flickr. I’ll be damned if I’m going to go through all those pictures using Gimp, and I’ll be double damned if I’m going back to the office just to use Photoshop. Most of the pictures are my self-indulgent long-exposure experimentations anyway.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for December 31. On a chilly Saturday morning, Heather and I set off around 8:30 for Austin. We packed some snacks, notably some coffee-flavored jellybeans that Meredith left for me[1] and my leftovers from the office holiday dinner (chicken breast and mashed potatoes which I heated up in a microwave in Sulphur Springs, Texas). All was sunny and joyous until around Waco, where from out of nowhere a rock pelted my windshield, leaving a permanent peanut-sized gash. Poop.

We arrived in Austin around 4PM, and made our way to Tara’s place on South Congress. We elected to mosey our way downtown on foot. We walked through some art installation not unlike the Gates, and across a bridge covered in chalk art.

Then came the parade, like a miniature, family-oriented Burning Man. Sure, a lot of it was smelly hippies on papier mache encrusted bikes, but most of it was legitimately creative and/or truly odd. Austin is one of the few cities where counter-cultural movements permeate civic events, and I value that. After the parade, we met up with Tara’s chicas for sushi. Also, who should catch up with us there as well but Katherine and Chad? Great minds think alike, so they had opted for an Austin NYE as well, completely independent of Heather and I.

After dinner we headed to the Blue Genie warehouse, where The Small Stars and The White Ghost Shivers were having their big New Year’s Eve party. Here are some pictures, courtesy of Tara’s friend Christine. It was all going spectacularly well until midnight, when just after the traditional countdown and toast, both bands began to play together and promptly blew out the power. No professional gaffers were on hand apparently, so the power never came back on. Fortunately The White Ghost Shivers are a ragtimey band, capable of functioning entirely without electricity. So they continued to rock the house in the dark for quite some time after midnight. Once the show had officially ended, Tara and Heather were not ready to quit, so Tara tracked down a house party fairly close by and we went to that. It was amusing, and there was a wide variety of characters in attendance, including one gentleman who spoke to a banana as though it were a cellphone.

We got home around 5:30, which was about the same time I woke up the previous day, thus marking a nearly 24 hour stretch of uninterrupted consciousness for me. We promptly crashed and didn’t wake up until shortly after noon. We debated on various ways to spend the day and eventually settled on shopping at Half Price Books, Cheapo Discs, and snackage at Whole Foods Market (impossibly delicious). After that we had dinner over at Tara’s friend Lindsey’s place.

Monday meant time to drive back. I got up earlier than the girls to scope out some guitar stores. I picked up some breakfast tacos and we all went for coffee at Jo’s. Heather and I then loaded up the truck and headed north.

Just south of Dallas I got pulled over for speeding. Supposedly 80 in a 65, but I don’t know how the guy got his reading since he was a half mile ahead of me. The ticket is like 220 damn dollars. My question to you is, should I not pay it and just never drive through Texas again? Because that’s enough to make me boycott the entire state. I guess it will probably be reported to my insurance company…or will it? Anybody know for sure? F*cking Dallas.

Heather drove the rest of the way back to Little Rock while I attempted to rest and not get stressed out by the cop or the crack in my windshield. All this running around Austin and driving across Texas probably contributed to the illness that has had me down since Tuesday.

So there you have it. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Screw driving, I’m flying to Austin for South by Southwest in March. God forbid I ever drive to Austin again.

1.) She having just departed Little Rock after a four-day residence at my place. It was great – just like being married; she was there when I got home from work and we were both too worn out to do anything beyond cuddle and watch movies.

Nerdboy Goes Wow

One of the reasons I like good hip-hop is the digging. DJ Shadow digs deep into music history to find good stuff, and sometimes I catch up to him. I was just listening to my vast cache of 70’s jazz fusion, Stanley Clarke’s “Concerto for Jazz/Rock Orchestra” in particular, when I heard the familiar strains of Shadow’s “Best Foot Forward” (the first music sample on the record, right after the spoken intro). Moments like that are magical, and I’m reminded of the times when I’ve caught up to De La Soul and 3rd Bass when they sampled Blood, Sweat and Tears, Steely Dan, and Syl Johnson. Even better was the time I bought Hooverphonic’s A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular and on the same day bought Isaac Hayes’s Hot Buttered Soul from which they borrowed heavily.