Monday, January 30, 2006

Rip a dip dip

I spent the weekend ripping CDs. And eating.

I'm not done ripping yet, but I'm pretty far along. I think I've ripped in the neighborhood of 160 discs so far, and I have about 30 left. I had ripped many of my CDs before, but they were in a mix of formats, most of them in OGG Vorbis. I'm all for open source and stuff, but deciding to rip 100 CDs into OGG Vorbis is like painting yourself into a corner and then painting your feet as well, out of frustration.

This time I'm playing for keeps. I do not want to do this again. Here's my strategy:
1. Rip everything as lossless audio (FLAC)
2. Use a program to batch-convert all of the FLACs to MP3

The benefits are great:
1. If I ever change my mind about what lossy format or bitrate I want my music to be in, I can do step 2 again with minimal effort
2. At home, I get to listen to the FLAC files, which sound exactly like the original CDs.

In order to live up to my slogan, I brought down the Media Center PC so I could rip with both hands. As a result, I had FLACs and MP3s spread across 2 computers. The solution was a nifty free program from Microsoft, SyncToy. SyncToy is perfect. It is a versitle and easy-to-use app to intelligently move files from one folder to another, or to synchronize the contents of two folders with one another. I highly suggest it.

The next step now is to go buy an MP3 player. I have never seriously thought about getting an iPod (or other player) to this point, because I knew all my music was in an incompatible format. Now that I'm past that block, the shopping may begin. What should I get?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Drunk Mushroom Palace

"Based on your drawing and the 10 answers you gave this is a summary of your personality:"

[1-10 added by sage for how much I agree ... 10= strongly agree, 1 = bullshit]

You are sensitive and indecisive at times. [6] You are a freedom lover and a strong person. [8 why are these in the same sentence?] You are shy and reserved. [4] If you've drawn a cross on each of windows, you always want to live alone. You are very tidy person. [8] There's nothing wrong with that because you're pretty popular among friends. [1 This sentence makes no sense] Your life is always full of changes. [Like sobering up... this profile is a real buzz kill ]

You will avoid being alone and seek the company of others whenever possible. [If A then A!] You love excitement and create it wherever you go. [back to the rating scheme ... 1] You have a strong personality and you like to command, influence and control people. [5]

You are not a romantic person by nature. [-1] It also safe to say that others don't see you as a flirt. [I agree that it is safe... safe to dance] You don't think much about yourself. [Or do I not think about myself much? 0]

Draw you own house and stick it on Liz's street. My street is so exclusive, it doesn't exist. Take that!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One year ago today

Tonight after we left the gym, Hugo and I decided to play with the Legos. I brought up the six boxes from the laundry room, and we opened them one by one as we watched the latest episode of Desperate Housewives and The West Wing on our Media Center.

As I lifted each set out of it's box, I recalled how old I was when I got it, how I got it, or who got it for me. It was a feast of nostalgia.

One Christmas when I was probably about nine, I got $50 spending money. We were in Cleveland, at Yia Yia and Papou's just like any year back then. After Christmas, I went to the local K-Mart or Odd Lots with my Mom specifically to go Lego shopping. That is the day I bought my the fire station.

Mom and Dad got me the pirate ship as a reward for being chosen into the "SES" gifted and talented program in elementary school. They clearly thought it was a bigger deal than I did. That program allowed for the participating students to come early one day a week for a special elective class of their choosing. I chose computers. The computers we had in the North Park Elementary computer lab were Apple IIe's with two 5.25" floppy drives. One was for the operating system. The other was for the program you wanted to run. (Did you ever wonder why your computer skips B:\ when assigning drive letters?)

The hospital was one of the first big sets I ever got. I vaguely remember discovering it peeking out from the top shelf of my parent's closet a few weeks prior to Christmas. I don't remember if I ever told my mom. I probably acted surprised anyway. It remains one of my coolest sets.

Every set has a story, and each one is like a little bookmark into my past. Thinking about it now, it makes me miss being a kid, even though I don't really want to go back. I do realize now that my childhood was very pleasant. If there were anything I would want to modify about being a kid, though, it would be to make myself more busy. And to have the internet ten years sooner. The only thing ... well, not the only thing... the only unpleasant feelings I remember about being that young are 1. being frustrated at not knowing things, or keeping the same open questions for months or years and 2. being frustrated at how time moved so slowly. I can say, with confidence, that both of these are no longer a problem. The internet allows me to answer nearly any (nominally trivial) question instantly. And the rate at which I experience time has been increasing as long I have been alive.

Which brings me to the original intent of this post. It has been almost one year since I moved to Seattle. It just hit me before I came downstairs that it was probably one year ago to the day that I last played with the Legos, so pulled up the photo gallery which contains the picture in this post. Sure enough, Brette, Brendan, and I played with the Legos on January 24, 2005.

I can't really explain this, but I always have two seemingly contradictory feelings about the passage of time. It seems like it goes by quickly. And at the same time, if you think back to a specific event, it feels like a such a long time has passed.

Did this year go by quickly for you? What did you do on January 24, 2005? Food for thought. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Clean Room!!!1!

This weekend has been quite productive. I am most satisfied with my newly clean room. For as long as I've lived here, I have had at least one pile somewhere in my room. Now they're all gone. Every single one of them. My desk is clean. There are vacuum lines on the carpet.

I also upgraded my dawn simulator setup. My dawn simulator is a little box (it's next to my alarm clock in the picture) that i plug my lamps in to. It has a clock and a timer. I set it for when I want to wake up, and it gradually turns on my lights over the course of 45 minutes. Previously, I only had it hooked up to my torcheire lamp (right of nightstand) and my ambient IKEA lamp, at the foot of my bed. That worked pretty well. When I bought the dawn simulator, the woman at the store told me that the lights have to be bright and direct. My existing lamps were neither.

Enter the grow lights. I found these lamps at Home Depot for $15 a piece, bulbs included. They are awesome. This morning I tested them out, and then mounted them nicely with some wire hiders. My goal is for my waking experience to be akin to sleeping outside, and experienceing a real sun rise.

Speaking of sun, what is that foreign stripe of photons across my bed? Could it be? Yes, it can. The rain finally let up. Fuck the record, I say. Give me sun. I'll drink it up.

The soundtrack of the weekend has been my new Rockin' Blues station on Pandora. Check it out. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Oh my God these are delicious. Jell-O Pudding Pops, welcome back into my life. After more than a decade puddin' pop-less agony, the drought is over.

Do you remember these? I used to eat them all the time when I was a kid. And then one day, I woke up, and they were gone! Ripped from my grasp! For half of my life, I wandered the freezer isles of H-E-B, longing for my lost confection. My quest came to it's end today in the Bellevue Safeway. God be praised.

The best part of a Jell-O Puddin' Pop is the way that they develop an icy layer around the outside of the pop. If you've ever had one, you know what I mean. I love to use my tongue to gently lift the ice off the pop, and eat it separately. It's almost like unwrapping a Christmas present. A present wrapped in delicious pudding-vapor ice.

BTW1: It rained today. 23.
BTW2: Jeff, nice to hear from you! Glad to see you found the site!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Reality Sets In

This post has nothing to do with this picture. I only put it here so that I could remind myself that nice days exist. This was taken July 5 on the banks of Lake Chelan. We rented a boat and went tubing. It was sweet. And on to the post...

I live in Seattle. It rains in Seattle. A lot. Until this winter, I thought the whole rain business was a myth, constructed to keep out all the potential transplants. I even came back and told everyone that it doesn't really rain in Seattle. Well I was wrong. Last spring was exceptionally nice. The summers here are always nice. Fall was gray, and kinda rainy. But this since December, IT HAS NOT STOPPED RAINING. In fact, it has rained for 22 consecutive days. It has rained every day in Seattle since a week before I left for Texas. Fuck! And guess what the five day forecast looks like.

The rain isn't really that bad by itself. But the lack of sunlight is really depressing. I had no idea how much I loved the sun until it was gone. I want a grow lamp. Right on top of my head.

On the bright side, I really don't spend that much time in the rain. I park underground at home and at work, and I'm inside a building or my car the rest of the time. I have very few occasions when I every have to use my umbrella.

I just realized that I started the last paragraph with an inadvertent pun. That is even more depressing.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Vanilla Coke, Lemon Pepsi, Friends episodeds on DVD

Pandora surprised me with a song today. Viva La Persistence from the album Hidden Vagenda by Kimya Dawson. The song is eerily addictive. The lyrics are playfully pointy. It's got this repetitive vocal rhythm, and a snare drum beat that unexpectedly toggles between syncopation and the down beats. I encourage you to check this song out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Trivia Time

In celebration of the big game tonight, here's some Texas trivia. There are really two inspirations for this set of questions. The first is a story I read a long time ago about Scott O'Grady, the US pilot that got shot down over Bosnia. When the rescuers needed to validate his identity, and to rule out the possibility that the distress calls were a trap, they asked him a question about his college sports that the enemy would never know. Second, Jess and I have a standing disagreement about the first question. I believe that a lot more people know the answer than she does.

Test your knowledge -- how well do you know Texas football?

  1. What is the best part of the Texas Texas Yee Haw cheer?
  2. What big change came for Texas Pom in 2003?
  3. Who choked in the 2001 Big XII Championship game against Colorado?
  4. What is the significance of 4th and 18?
  5. What is OU's hand sign?

Monday, January 02, 2006

What a long, strange trip it's been

I'm sorry, Jessalee, but this will be the ultimate what i did post. I am trying to get in to some sort of rhythm of writing posts, so I'm not going to let myself get blocked behind a desire to have rich, insightful commentary.

So tonight is my last night in Austin. I've been here since before Christmas, and it has been a long, relaxing, and eventful trip.

Here is the play-by-play of the vacation.

Friday 12/23 : I flew out of Seattle on the redeye. Jackie agreed to drop me off at the airport after I bribed her with some bread pudding. The Austin pavement was soaked with sunlight when Kayla picked me up at 9am. We met Jared at campus Kerby to catch up and eat Obligatory Austin Meal #1: Kerby Migas with the rice and beans substituted for homefries. Kayla and I visited the Rennisance market off the drag and picked up some marble creatures and found-object art.

As soon as I got home, Dad and I put together the Media Center from the parts that I had shipped to the house. We had everything up and running in about 2 hours, sans obsessive configuration. To date, the media center has become a member of the family, and I'm sure I'll get a phone call if it ever gets sick.

Later that evening, the family went down to the Alamo Drafthouse to see The Mr. Sinus Christmas Show. Everyone thought it was hilarious except for dad. He doesn't appreciate the profanity and fart jokes as much as the rest of us.

Saturday 12/24: Christmas eve day. I can't remember actually doing anything. I think I watched Cheer Up! Man of the House that night. Then I wrapped presents with Kayla after Mom and Dad went to bed.

Sunday 12/25: Christmas day. We woke up early to open presents. I got some great Texas-themed wall-hangy objects. One is a framed replica of the last letter that William Travis wrote from the Alamo. It's the one where he says 'So we're surrounded, and they're shooting at us. We know we're doomed, but we're going to suck it up and fight it out. Please send some bakckup.' Every time I read it, I am amazed at how brave these men were. I also got a round, wrought iron lone star emblem, emblazoned with an unmistakable T-E-X-A-S. Once I put these up in the apartment, with my burnt orange couch and six-foot mounted longhorns, there will no longer be any confusion over where we are from.

We went to dim sum for lunch at Tien Hong. Mom hated everything, and sent it all back. She doesn't really like dim sum, or Tien Hong, but came for the sake of family, and since Dad loves it. Thanks, Mom. Truthfully, I thought the dim sum on Christmas was average at best. Many of our dishes were cold or tepid, and nothing was particularly tasty. Ate it anyway.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with our new webcams. The idea is that we can keep in touch using audio/video conferencing with MSN or Skype. I wonder if there is enough novelty in video make it worth it. We'll see.

Monday 12/26: Stephen came in to town Monday night. We hung out with the family for a while, and then we headed over to Chris's for a while. We talked tech and polotics and then headed over to Taco C. Chris tried to order flaquitos, which do not exist. The cashier girl, who was a bitch, eventually sold Chris some flautas. I took the opportunity to fulfill Obligatory Austin Meal #2, Taco C Grilled Chicken Cabana Bowl with plenty of orange salsa.

Tuesday 12/27: Mom and I went to H.E.B., and I got all the goodies necessary for my family dinner. I got a chance give Mom a night off from cooking, and stoke my cooking habit. Chris and Justin joined us, and brought a delicious Spanish wine, which they picked out especially to match the meal. The menu was an homage to the meal that Jackie, Eliot and I cooked in early December. The feast included:Wednesday 12/28: I napped all day. That night the family headed down to the Athenian Grill on Congress for Kayla's much belated birthday dinner. It was fantastic. If you have not eaten there, go. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday 12/29: This afternoon, I had the pleasure of a lunch date with Amanda. Together, we satisfied Obligatory Austin Meal #3, The Two-Meat plate at Pok-E-Jo's, with a gigantic Sweet Tea. We took my dad's shiny Z, and we went the long way, via 2222 and 360. Amanda sat indian-style in the front seat as we zipped through the twists of the mountain-hugging road. After lunch, we walked over to Barnes and Noble. Amanda was kind enough to pose for some photos. I bought a new book by Kurt Vonnegut, which I have not begun to read yet.

This brief encounter was enough to renew my impossible crush on Amanda, which I will probably never get over.

I went over to Chris's to watch the Alamo Bowl. Leslie joined us, and later Brendan arrived from Houston. We watched OU drop the Big XII hammer on Oregon, and teased Leslie with the vibrating lumbar pillow. Later, Jessalee called, and we headed over to Possee. Not too many people were there, and Jess was tired, so we took off.

Friday 12/30: Brendan and I met up with Jess at her apartment at noon, and we went to Zen Japanese Fast Food for lunch. Jessalee had enough faith to let me take pictures, either that or she just grew tired of protesting. We sat and talked for a long time after we finished our food. Brendan and Jess had a chopstick fight, and we made a tower out of our utensils. We got kicked out of the restaurant for making religiously insensitive comments and napkin drawings*. Later we went back to Jess's place, and Brendan tried to knit. On AIM, Jess professed her desire to handcuff and do nasty things with Chris M**. We sat around until Jessalee had to go to the pre-Rose Bowl rehearsal, and then Brendan and I went back to Round Rock to see my family and eat dinner.

* Not really, but that's what we told Jessalee after we snuck out while she was in the bathroom.
** Not really, but that's what Chris M. thought becasue I typed the messages to him using Jessalee's screen name.

I stopped by the rehearsal for the last bit, and was able to catch a few other friends while they were in town. After that, I jetted over to Chris's, and we went downtown to catch the Scabs concert with Brendan and Irene. We braved the line even after being told that it was "pretty much sold out." Most people gave up, and we eventually made it in. The Scabs were their usual amazing selves. Charles "Razor" Reiser, (the guitar player that isn't slowpoke) was not there for some reason. Bob said it had something to do with a sex change operation. Unfortunately, the sound was so loud that it was distorted. I left a little early in order to take Chris home. I didn't mind, because my ears were ringing so loudly, I could hardly comprehend the music by that point anyway .

Saturday 12/31:
New Year's Eve. Chris, Brendan , and I went down to the "Frist Night Austin" festival downtown. This was the first time Austin had ever put on such an event. There was a parade, which was pretty tame, and then some artsy dancing stuff out in front of the new city hall. We retreated under the cover of the tepid family fireworks finale, and we got in line at Katz's. Chris jetted home to retrieve his wallet and watch, the absence of which was causing him intolerable discomfort all evening. I the interim, Brendan and I detoured over to Book People.

Katz's hosted Obligatory Austin Meal #4, the Katz's Pick 3, including the best fruit salad ever. By the time we sat down to dinner, I was feeling pretty bad. By the time we were done, all I wanted to do was lie down. So while the rest of the world was ringing in the New Year, I was asleep in Chris's guest bedroom, under a merciful dose of NyQuil. I woke up in 2006, and drove myself home.

Sunday 1/1:
New Year's Day: High for the Holidays. I met up with Chris, Brendan, and special guest Brock down at the Alamo for a screening of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle with all-you-can-eat mini hamburgers. The movie was awesome, and it was great to catch up with Brock. I have a feeling that the Alamo Drafthouse will become one of the future items on the Obligatory Austin itinerary.

Monay 1/2:
Today we watched some football and went shopping. Ohio State made us look good by whipping the Irish. Texas Tech blew it at the end agains Alabama, but committed enough penalties to lose the game by a lot more than they did. Props to their QB for leading the tying touchdown drive in the 4th on leg that was practically broken. He had to be helped off the field after throwing the TD. The afternoon was Sage-Kay day. I went with Kayla all around town on a shoe shopping extravaganza. We went to about 11 shoe stores, looking for nothing in particular. We found nothing in particular, except for two Starbucks frappuccinos, one vanilla and one mocha.

I head back to seattle tomorrow afternoon, and back to work on Wednesday. This vacation has really been a blast. I saw nearly all of the friends I intended to see, and I am thoroughly relaxed. The notable absences were Brette and Natalie. Brette was in Ohio the entire time, and flew directly to California for the Rose Bowl. Natalie was confined to Lubbock, and will not return until after I am long gone. I miss you both.

If you were curious about the title of this post (as I'm sure you were...,) I finally got a chance to listen to my new Grateful Dead CD this break. For some reason, it will not play in my car CD player, but it will play just fine in my portable one and in my dad's car. The first four-or-five songs are awesome.

Good night, Austin, Texas.