7-31-08 (22:04)
  • got back on track in terms of watching movies this month. 39 for july, a respectable number.

  • 7-29-08 (23:18)

  • my watch is falling apart. can't seem to find a tough watch these days. everything that's made is made for wimps who don't work for a living. dammit.

  • 7-27-08 (23:04)

  • luke's having a bad month. today his car was stolen and it had copies of critical paperwork and his dewalt drill in it. oakland seems to be getting worse lately. more shootings and meryl and i have both noticed more crime in our neighborhood.
  • so here's a good one, noticed this recently since i've seen so many films that this guy has worked on...who was involved in over 300 films including such greats as: hombre, sand pebbles, sound of music, diary of anne frank, fly (1958), king and i, 14 hours, all about eve, 12 o'clock high, unfaithfully yours, call northside 777, gentlemen's agreement, kiss of death, my darling clementine, fallen angel, gone with the wind, and more? ben nye, the makeup artist. you'll notice that most of those pictures were fox productions, by the way. remarkable list of movies that he was involved in. kept noticing his name coming up in the credits since i've been watching a lot of fox noir lately.

  • 7-26-08 (18:50)

  • worked on the never-ending slate project at the alumni house today. finally found a good supplier of large slate of the right color and texture. the large size helps reduce the number of cuts and makes the final look a lot better.
  • made a little rolling platform out of scrap material for my air compressor yesterday. having spare wood and nuts and bolts and wheels is such a nice luxury.

  • 7-25-08 (19:39)

  • listened to a bit of david edelstein's review of man on a wire on npr today. it's about the french guy who walked across a wire between the twin towers in 1974. when he was asked why he said something like "i did something very marvelous and mysterious and americans ask the practical question of why." it came off as a very pretentious thing to say and i thought about the stereotypes of europe (pretentious) vs. america (arrogant). i think as an individual i'd rather be called pretentious because it's easy to write it off as something a person says when they don't understand your intellect. but as a nation i think i would rather be arrogant than pretentious because i think that arrogance gets you to the moon as often as it gets you into iraq. of course i'd rather not be either, but if i had to choose...
  • just watched a south park episode about smug hybrid owners. good episode, but i actually think that biodiesel owners are more smug. diesels also pollute quite a bit more, especially when you're talking about converting an old mercedez or something. they're also loud and smelly, yet people still advertise the fact that they're biodiesel cars with bumper stickers. i like the diy aspect of it, but i'm not a fan otherwise.
  • saw the 1968 olympic men's 200m race the other day. this is the infamous race because smith and carols gave the black power salute afterwards, but two things i noticed were: tommie smith has as good a second half as any 200m sprinter i've ever seen, even as better than michael johnson who was more of a 400m runner anyway. that said, johnson has the world record and was a better overall runner than smith. the other thing i noticed is that carlos lost the 2nd place position by looking over at smith and then over at norman who ended up getting second place. so, smith and norman ran near perfect races and carlos basically blew it because he only ran 190m and forgot about the last 10m. i've also noted before that smith's time would have been good enough to win in the 2000 olympics, when a greek guy won because johnson elected to  run only the 400m.

  • 7-25-08 (13:09)

  • bought an hvlp spray gun the other day and put it to good use today. re-painted a piano bench from the alumni house. stripped all the paint, sanded, sprayed primer and sprayed paint. looks pretty good overall, not amazing. for it to be amazing i would have liked to do two things: 1) apply wood putty to the divots in the bench legs and sand them down smooth. this is tough to do on a rounded surface and i don't know that the boss wants me to spend too much time on this project. 2) sand with 220 grit paper after the first topcoat and applied another coat. didn't do that in large part thanks to my compressor. hvlp spray guns take almost as much compressed air to run as any other pneumatic tool you'll find and my compressor, though very good, isn't a garage sized machine. it was definitely working overtime and the bench is good so i stopped. generally you're supposed to give the compressor a break at least 50% of the time, and i think i exceeded that. it'll be fine. when i change the oil on the car i'll do the same for the compressor and all will be good. this piano bench project has been a fun one. the hvlp gun is good, maybe not great for latex paint (should have thinned it even more), but it did the job.

  • 7-24-08 (17:11)

  • volunteered for habitat for humanity today. you work a 8:30a-4p shift and do a variety of different things. i worked with another guy who hadn't done it before and had no construction experience. working in twos is ideal for this sort of setup because i think you make fewer rookie mistakes that way. it also passes the time better in general and you can bounce ideas off each other. it's an interesting setup in that you have basically a bunch of amateur volunteers building a series of houses. they do a fairly good job of instructing you as much as you need to be instructed and keeping the tasks small and simple. so, rather than saying "flash that window," they'll tell you to take a piece of metal flashing, cut it, nail it up and then talk to me. then they'll tell you the next step. it's probably a wise way of getting this kind of stuff done with the kind of people you're going to have. it's basically controlled chaos.
  • they have a shitload of tools and supplies in about six train size trailers. there were only 8 volunteers there today, but i assume the weekend gets more busy. there were three staffers - one full-time guy who gets paid by hfh and two americorps student-types. they're basically in the same boat i was when i was doing the sca gig in ohio. overall a good experience and i'd do it again. some of the people in the finished homes seemed (based mostly upon their vehicles) to be more well off than me, so that was a bit disconcerting. part of the criteria for getting a house is that you live in a shitty neighborhood, but still have the ability to make payments on the house that you're going to get built for you. not sure what the net cost is to someone in the program. other criteria are: putting in 500 sweat equity hours and having a family (no single people need apply). not sure how they get the land, but i did see some corporate sponsors for some of the houses (presumably the cost of materials is provided by the sponsor in those cases).
  • read a story in the wall street journal today that was quite intriguing. it was about those plastic bags that are filled with air that companies use when packing different things for shipping. apparently about 85% of these bags are manufactured in china where air pollution is at an all-time high. what they're doing is concentrating the air pollution and then using this polluted air to fill the bags that are then shipped throughout the world when you buy books on amazon.com or electronics on buy.com or whatever. this effectively ships their concentrated polluted air to other countries. what a devious trick.
  • actually, i just made that one up.

  • 7-23-08 (20:32)

  • good piece on npr today about the cover child from nirvana's nevermind album. he's 17 now and thinks growing up in the 90s was better than growing up now. he railed against his generation that plays rock band and guitar hero instead of going out an starting a band. pretty good stuff.

  • 7-23-08 (00:42)

  • working on stripping the paint off a black piano bench from the alumni house. finally got it done, but made an absolute mess out of the bathtub. holy christ. good thing meryl is housesitting for her mom because she'd probably have a heart attack.

  • 7-21-08 (23:39)

  • watched dark knight over the weekend. if i were rich i'd drive to la to watch it at the village or mann's chinese theater - two theaters that have digital projectors and the best sound systems i've ever witnessed. i'm not rich.
  • have thought recently about working for the oakland police department. they're desperate for cops and they pay $70k a year plus benefits. that's more than three times my current salary, plus i'd have benefits and only have to work 4 days a week (10 hour shifts). two detractors are the constant battle with crazy criminals and the potential for frat boy bullshit amongst fellow cops. the pros are the salary + benefits (i'd be able to afford a house within a year, guaranteed - nice steady income, i think there are home buyer programs for civil servants as well), i'd be making a difference in this shitty city, i'd still have 3 days a week off. it's a compelling opportunity that i may pursue. the biggest stumbling block will probably be the written test which i won't be very interested in studying for.
  • doing what i'm currently doing means i probably won't ever be able to buy a house and that's getting increasingly sad to me. still looking into a general contractor's license. a fairly involved process with a lot of requirements in terms of experience. still trying to lock down what they're looking for. they ask for 4 years of unsupervised experience, but they don't give an explicit breakdown of what fields that experience must be in. for example, i know i need some experience in rough carpentry, but how much experience as a plumber, electrician, painter, tile-setter, etc. do i need to get the class b license? need to call them back about that one.
  • definitely starting to feel like my life hasn't led to much thus far. done a lot of travelling and held some fun jobs like the ranger intern. travelled to and lived in more places than most people i know, but have a lot less money than anyone else. haven't cared about that very much most of my life, but i finally realized that you can't be truly free unless you have a shitload of money or none. i guess i can only hope to strive for something in the middle. i'd like a house, though, while i can still take care of it. i think i'd be a good homeowner.

  • 7-16-08 (21:54)

  • first found this site in 1998, about a year after it first came up. she stopped posting about a year ago which is too bad because she was hilarious. probably shaped my misanthropic view of the world more than i would like to admit. strangely i've never heard anyone talk about this early blog before, it seems like the kind of site that was a little too ahead of its time.
  • wonder what the longest running blog on the net is.
  • trying to think of other ways of making money. doing work independently for people has yielded exactly zero bucks so far even though everyone i know seems to support the idea and thinks i'd be good at it.

  • 7-15-08 (15:57)

  • susan's (johnny/luke's mom) service was a good one. a nice mix of feel good stories and laughter and cheesy poetry. i found it to be a good time for reflection on my own life and friends. it makes you wonder what people say when you're gone and who will be there. also made me reflect upon the way we celebrate a person's life, and how we generally do it only when they're gone.
  • gave some bone marrow about a week ago. got $200 for 50cc of marrow. it was an interesting experience. they give you two shots to numb the area and that's what actually hurts the most because you feel it burn as it goes into your flesh. after a 5 minute wait they put a needle into your pelvis and you hear the crunch as it goes through the bone. then you feel a sucking pressure as the marrow gets squeezed out. the next day or two the area feels a little bruised, but it's life as usual. the worst thing was the mental part because i kept thinking about the crunching sound of my bone giving way to the needle, but that went away by the next day. not a bad experience overall.
  • put up a couple shelves in the apartment for displaying the used soda bottles. so far we've sampled two of the sodas. meryl has liked both, i've liked one. not sure if i should post pictures and reviews as i drink them or all at once. probably will do it all on one feature page so you'll have to wait for all the details.
  • watched a few frontline episodes today. great investigative journalism. there are some great shows on television, it's just too bad that the majority is crap. that goes for people as well.
  • signed up for two more classes at laney. will start that in a month. don't have a second job anymore, at least that's how i think of it. don is having trouble in this economy finding work for himself, much less me or the other worker he had. this economy sucks, but the part time job i have now should keep me afloat for the time being.

  • 7-9-08 (21:14)

  • was informed yesterday that johnny and luke's mom passed away on the 3rd due to an infection after her second round of chemo. she had leukemia so i suppose everyone was aware of the possibility that this could happen, but it still came as a total shock to me. i guess we take life, even in the face of death, for granted. i just figured there would be more notice, but i guess that's the nature of death, even these days. as far as family goes, johnny and luke only have each other now, so far as i know. hopefully they'll grow closer as a result.

  • 7-6-08 (20:39)
    back home after going to la for my birthday weekend. was busy, didn't get everything done that i wanted to get done. possible highlight was going to galco's soda pop store and buying $60 worth of soda. will take pictures and write reviews in the coming weeks.