Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Rilly Rilly Big News

Yes, news of a personal nature is being included here:

Tigger and I got engaged on Friday!

Not that any of you hypothetical readers ever leave comments anyhow, but if you have bitter stories to share, here and now are not the place, and not the time for them respectively.

I figured doing this on the day before we had half the world coming to our house for brunch/housewarming/meet Gojira etc., would really be just the best idea evar.

Clearly I am getting high on something, but don't know just what, given how well I conceived of all of these logistics. That said, I'm happy to have a more interesting story to tell. Maybe you'll end up hearing it, if you in fact exist.

All the details are going to follow, if I get around to deciding how much to expose my soft underbelly to (albeit hypothetical) strangers... we'll see.

Meanwhile, hope you are all just as happy as I am at the moment.

Also hope you are less tired, and didn't have a hangover for at least a solid day, and at the moment today felt a bit like it too. Woo!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Little Help?

You know, hypotheticals, I work my fingers to the bone over here...

I'd like everyone to send this address to at least seven people, with a threatening chain letter. I want to get to where I can start BLEGGING.

Not actually serious, here. I'm just blegging in my own way, but just for attention, not a splashy new pair of sunglasses. The difference being I'm blegging hoarsely into the void, which makes it less acquisitive, and more just a little bit desparate, I suppose. Were I to be serious, that is.

Isn't that why we all come ride the tubes though, kids?

Anyway, in all seriousness, if you haven't read it, go check out fatty's blog, but you probably have since after all, he's a bloggie winner, and a celeb in his own right. There's an old saying in German: "What does the moon care if a dog barks at it?"

Well, "woof woof" and all that.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Complexities

Two things.
One: when I got my current iPod as a gift from Tigger, I thought they were excessively large and I would never need the space for everything.

Fast forward two plus years, and my 30 gig iPod (or in this case the one I got Tigger for her Birthday) has blown a seam trying to just keep up with all the music we've been adding to iTunes for the purpose of getting rid of our brick and mortar CDs.

The day has arrived, and we now have too much stuff to put on the pods.  I didn't think it would come to this and it has, and suddenly with all the photos I shoot (Nikon D70, gigs at a time after a trip get ripped to the iPhoto and stored, always nice to have those along for showing people our waterfalls/puppy/selves) I'm looking at the 160 GB iPod and thinking "Yeah, that might hold us for a while."

We've gotten completely accustomed to such mammoth amounts of data being flung around, it's kind of hard to really grip, mentally.

My college Mac held (I think) 80 MB on the hard drive, and it was the uprated model, yet still black and white.  I'm not even that old, at least as far as I'm concerned.  That is one tenth of a CD-R.  Don't even get me started on how much of a CF card it is, or how much of a DVD-R or whatever.

Second point: I bought a "terrestrial" phone for the first time in about ten years today.  We both have cell phones ("Gee REALLY???"  "Yes, really, along with the rest of the developed and developing world, we do.  Can the sarcasm.") so it has never really been necessary, but suddenly we have cable service that was practically doing backflips to get us to agree to have a phone line through the modem, and it would be LESS than just getting cable and internet, so FINE.  We did it.  Well there's that, and there's the fact that our turn of the century electrical system basically gave my cell phone a surge-induced ice-pick lobotomy, causing it to lose all my contacts, forget all my text messages, and stop making or receiving calls, and I need to be reachable on a day off of work tomorrow... 

The good news, in our image infatuated society is: don't worry, my cell still turns on very nicely, and looks perfectly fine.  It just won't do anything, and its memory is putting it in the category of a hobo found at a Phoenix strip mall not knowing its own name and gibbering about un-nameable awfulness while scratching its face incessantly.

So I went ahead and went to get a phone to plug in to our cable modem, since we're paying for it anyway.

The first cordless I brought home, with an answering machine attached  (which makes me think that maybe we'll do up a novelty type message, for old times sake... possibly including Gojira making some contribution, 'cause why not, eh? (which in turn makes me lament the end of the attempted amusing outgoing message, which was oddly killed by the cell phone, perhaps because the culture was all about phones for "business" people just didn't feel like impersonating Peter Lorre or whatever, go figure, right?)) it didn't work, at least in terms of charging.

Want to apologize for the nested parentheses.  I learned German growing up, so I am immune to any confusion due to endless subclauses, and I think in those terms.  You hypothetical readers will just have to get accustomed, or just cease to exist in my fertile imagination, which is where I think you reside anyhow... fame and fortune are around the corner!


It wouldn't charge the handset, and I had to try and pack it up and return it to the local store where I bought it.  It sucked.  Hard.  Trying to get that thing back in the box was like trying to put an octopus to bed, to take a phrase from addiction counseling... there were about 600 plastic baggies, forty-five twist-ties, and sixty-seven folded pieces of cardboard to get this thing packed the hell up.

I went back, with a slightly misformed and bulging box of phones (it had the now common two handsets, with a spare charging base to keep at the other end of your cavernous suburban estate, though you can get them with up to FOUR handsets.)  Ended up getting another phone, from Panasonic, which had one handset only, but allows for additional handsets when we hit the lottery (if we ever bought tickets) and buy our hideous mafia palace on Long Island.
I want to tell you how much I love the good folks at Panasonic, and I'll tell you why:

First off, here's the top of the box.  You'll note that it's hazardous chemical free in production.  The first phone was from another company, and had cadmium batteries.  This one, has NiMH batteries, and even better... they are normal AAAs, so you can replace them when they start losing the plot.  I could make an iPod related comment here, but I'm a nice guy (bear with me... play along, alright?) so I won't do that.  Regular AA NiMH batteries.  How easy was that, industry???

And now, the "piece de resistance", this is what you see right away when you open the box, on the flap right below the lid:

Look carefully.

That there is a diagram showing you how to re-pack the box. That's right, folks. Someone wants to prepare us for the possibility that we have to put the jigsaw puzzle of death back together and return the product!

If you have any friends who are designers, I want you to print out this photo, and glue it onto the bottom of a frying pan. Wrap your friend in a blanket featuring images of Fallingwater, Guggenhem Bilbao, and anything by Alvar Aalto, and hit them in the face with said pan until they understand how simple and liberating good design actually can be for all of us.

Have a great day, and a wonderful tomorrow, folks.

Sidenote: the new phone works, too.  Which is wonderfully ironic given that returning it would have been so much easier than the other one...

Telemarketers, here I come!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reporting From the Smoking Rubble of a Battered Tokyo

Gojira is doing well, while sometimes "bad" and sometimes "good" he is adapting well to this strange cavalcade of newness that is Brooklyn.
We got up (Tigger and I) this morning, after I had had my pre-getting up awakening of taking G. out for his morning emergency #1's (we were up a little bit later than typical infant parents last night, so paid the price as dog caretakers) and I had been towed around the neighborhood by what is definitely a draft dog.
T: Do you want to make some breakfast?
P-Fan: What, make something other than dog food in this kitchen?
Yeah, hypothetical people... the dog has had about ten times the number of meals I've had come out of that kitchen, if not more.  It just seems like there's no time to do anything else.
The thing about it is: every person with (or without, which is somehow more insulting and absurd) when we speak about "little" Gojira's habits of jumping up on strangers or whatever else, always says "Well he's just a puppy!"

Here's the thing: we weighed him earlier this evening, before giving him a bath ('coz we know how to rock a rockin' Saturday night party up in this place!) and he's 60 pounds.

60 pounds.

Less than 5 months old.

For context: 

Maybe you can't read that, or do the conversion on what 60 pounds actually IS, but he would be in the 95th percentile in body weight for a six year old human child.  Name me one kid in the first grade who is at severe risk for knocking over strangers or peeing on the floor if he isn't in control.

Didn't think you could.

So, all the people who want to tell me that G. is just a puppy, let me say here: yeah.  I get that.  The rest of you with puppies don't have a giant breed/giant dog on your hands (if you do, scratch that, and let's all start a club or something... seriously.  Write me, one of you two hypotheticals, though the odds are slim) and unless you do, cut that advice off at the pass, okay?

It's a whole different world from a fluffy 20 pound dog that just wants to pee saucer sized puddles of "error" on the floor, or jump up to nuzzle and lick someone's calf.  We had the ENTIRE KITCHEN FLOOR spattered with an "accident" this evening when we had our timing and crate training off by a bit.  Hell, G. can knock over three year olds if he's too exuberant without even realizing anything has happened.

He's loving, and enjoys baths, bible study, and long walks on the beach... he just doesn't know his own strength.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I just can't take as advice or all will be lost:

"If at first you don't succeed, try again.  Then give up.  No use being a fool about it."
--W.C. Fields

We will carry on being fools at the casa, and hope in all the important ways in your lives that you do the same.

For the children, or something.

At some point, I may have some words about our errant, whoremongering governor (who I voted for and was a big supporter of, so again... don't take me to the dog track and expect good advice or anything, alright?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Joys of Spring

So, I awoke to a reasonably stout and hearty rain this morning, and no sooner than I could rub the sleep from my eyes, was out with the dog into the abyss of morning.  He didn't seem overeager about it either, and accomplished the mission at hand (codpiece free, thankfully not taking a page from our soon to be cashiered Commander In Chief) in short order.

This was followed by a long day at work, standing on the battlements bearing ongoing witness to the bloodshed and debacle, metaphorically smoking a cigarette and hoping that the city walls hold under this renewed onslaught from without.

Home again, getting my hand brutalized by a subway door, and with a sharply aching shoulder where my clavicle broke at the beginning of our odyssey together, gentle hypothetical readers (first pain I've had in months, so a little disappointing) I had opportunity to reflect on how  awesome it is to have pain that arrives when the weather changes.

It makes me feel all strapping and puissant from the very base of feet to the ends of my disheveled hair.  It's a vibrant feeling, really.  It just happens to have an old man-ish sharp pain in my back and shoulder doing a tap routine on stage left... and we all know that tap is God's way of saying that progress is good and vaudeville should stay well and dead.

We had planned on doing laundry, but we have pretty much bagged that concept for this evening, as it involves a drive, and it's late already.

For the joy of a bit of time recovering, I'll happily do some creative accounting as to what I consider "clean enough" for tomorrow to get me through work.

So, in the meantime (as I am telling myself this is a short post, gentle hypotheticals, which it never looks to be when I "publish" my inevitable tomes) there's someone who you just have to read:

She biked the iditarod, and describes the experience in detail... if you come upon this in the future, when it languishes in the dusty back rooms of the Old Internet, start in March of 2008, it is a tremendous accomplishment, and while there are those who are doing an 1100 mile version, 350 miles for a mortal human is almost inconceivable.

Look, read, and leave some love in the comments... some things are just infinitely resistant to cynicism.

And be well... 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Really Bearish

So I haven't mentioned this before, but I work for a bank.  I'm nothing high-flown, just a spreadsheet monkey with a couple of flat panel displays.  (FOUR OF 'EM!  They give me the worst feeling of dryness in my eyes, so don't be jealous.)  So it's not my brilliance that makes the money, or my bad luck or stupidity that loses it when that happens to be how it goes.

That said, times right now are as dark as anyone with lots of experience seems to be able to recall, and while no one is outside on bread lines or selling apples, it's not as farfetched as you might think, somehow.  Bear Stearns was a veritable 800 pound gorilla in New York (and global) finance, and the sudden collapse is pretty much unprecedented.

The fact is that while we look at this as the comeuppance of greedy and wealthy people, there is something that has been mentioned but bears reiterating: one third of the company was owned by the employees.  The $240 million dollar purchase price for JP Morgan was one tenth of the value that was in the marketplace on Friday ($2/share, down from $30/share) and just over an eightieth of the prices that were prevalent a number of months ago.


Let's do the math:

Roughly 14,000 employees held a third of the company, 120 million shares.  That, at the 52 week high of $159 per share comes to just over $19,000,000,000.00

That is a value in employee hands of over $6,000,000,000.00, which has turned into an $80 million value in a matter of two days.

That's an average of almost half a million dollars in savings lost per employee.

Oh yeah, and half the staff is going to get fired.

I've talked to colleagues who have friends who've lost pretty much everything overnight, and are now unsure of how to pay for their mortgages, which is (to say the least) a touch more ironic than I even need to comment on... the unaffordable mortgage, the teaser rate, and the overengineered nature of the Mortgage Backed Securities marketplace are the source of the pain, and to see perfectly honest and hardworking people lose a lifetime of work is pretty grim.

Even if they were among the highest paid Americans, it is still hard to imagine going through three days with that much of a drawn out punch in the stomach.

People are quick to judge the industry, quick to lay blame for the structuring of transactions that allowed ratings to be synthetically created (legitimately, especially given that the ratings agencies played along...)

The fact is that we don't want to spread the blame evenly, and justly:

-People wanted houses that were more expensive than they could afford.  

-Realtors wanted the biggest commissions they could get, no matter what the cost.  

-Local mortgage issuers wanted to get people the biggest loan they could sell to a lender. 

-Issuers wanted to sell highly rated securities built on mortgages paid by people with lousy credit.  


Blame everyone you feel you need to, but don't forget where that chain started.

Tigger and I looked at buying, looked at vacation houses, and didn't go ahead with the plan, because prices were inflated, the market was overheated, we would have gotten a fishy tweaked out adjustable rate, and...


Read that five times, slowly.  If you can't pay your bills, it's your damn fault too.

And now?  Now we all pay for your stupid house as taxpayers.

Your goddamn welcome.

I'd just like to keep my job, okay?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Up, up and Away

The last of the moving is done.  It's a strange feeling having given the keys back today, and knowing I won't unlock that door anymore.  As much as I knew it was coming and we'd been sleeping in the new place already, it just didn't seem real that we were leaving the old behind.

I feel a bit like Larry Walters at the moment.  You sit in the yard, inflating the balloons, filling ballast jugs, lifting off while tethered to the ground, all the while flying.  When the moment comes to release the rope that anchors you, and spring upwards into the sky it is unsettling.  However much the dream may be to fly your chair off into the blue, when the reality arrives it cannot be easy to process.

We've cut the tether, and are on our way (hopefully not into any commercial flight paths.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Mas

I'm ready to be done now.

All those anxiety and stress evaluations where they talk about moving as being one of the greatest sources of tension one can experience... I get that now.

I just want to have all my stuff in one place, and I want to feel like I can just live normally again.  We've slowly put things into place, and with the addition of the training/housebreaking/integrating a dog into life it's just been really extraordinarily draining.  I just want it to be a good, normal day to day for a little bit before something else intrudes.  I'm stressed enough about recession, and layoffs, and who knows what else, and this is just putting me at a point of exhaustion that I'm getting a bit tired of altogether.

There's no pithy here tonight folks.  I just have run out of whale oil for the week.

48 hours from now it will be finished, and I will be relieved.  I think I may be planning on:

-A trip to the beach this weekend
-Drinking myself into some sort of stupor on some evening

I dream big, kids.  That's how you make it to the big leagues, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Which I Am [Easily] Distracted

So, I know the two of you hypothetical readers have been fretting day and night about where I've been, but fret no more!  I did not fall down a well.  I have merely been tumbling through and down the rabbit hole of moving, stress, job insecurity, and a newly acquired relatively Hairy Roommate.

He had a rough first twenty-four hours.  If you were to ask the kitchen floor it would tell you that it does not even have hopes to ever regain its innocence.  But then, you know how much kitchen floors are all about hyperbole, so don't take it too seriously.  I, on the other hand, could do with not wiping up diarrhoeic leavings again any time soon.

Ah, hope springs eternal.

So, for all of you legions of imaginary friends out there, be of good cheer, for soon I will either leave a bunch of things and dust bunnies in our old apartment, or be fully moved into this one.

Or I will be fetal and completely immobilized on Thorazine in a lovely white facility somewhere.  I'm waiting for the Vegas odds to come in, but it's pretty much anyone's race at this point.

Tune in for updates!

(And be glad, at least I only talked about fecal matter briefly with you good, hypothetically slavering hypothetical readers.  We've been talking about it at Casa de Fan y Tigger pretty much incessantly for more than 36 hours!  It's a damn PARTY!)

Go with G__.

Pray for Mojo.

Monday, March 3, 2008

For a Banana, I'll Tell You Your Fortune

I forget from whom the quote came, but some sage once said that anything is funnier when you add a monkey.

I seriously need someone to add a monkey to my life at the moment.

We have been moving our assorted crap for two straight days, going in on day three, and it seems endlessly awesome at the moment (sarcasm smiley omitted because they don't exist.)  Even better, we have a small mildew "situation" at the new apartment that is hopefully going to be corrected by the landlord's guy by this evening.

Further: I had the singular pleasure of having "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel, and the first few riffs of "Bad Moon Rising" running through my head all day yesterday as a result of them being on the radio during on of what seemed like endless trips back and forth in the Lesbomobile (Subaru Outback wagon) to move boxes.

I am here to tell you that both of the artists in question (Mssrs. Billy Joel and Creedence Clearwater Revival) can sort of DIAF on my grand toteboard of life's people for me right now.  If I never hear "heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack" again, I will die a slightly happier man.

Wherever you are, stay there.  Help may not be on the way, but make sure there's a compelling reason to even go outside for coffee.  Seriously.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Really Simple, Really



Buy yourselves (hypothetical pair of readers) a couple of Clifton Chenier records.


I'm up, way too late of course... trying to sleep waiting for the move.  I am up, and listening to Clifton and his Red Hot Louisiana Band (their real name) just ripping the hell out of God's atmosphere.

You should be doing likewise.

If you have doubts, just know that this guy toured 300 plus dates a year, even while receiving kidney dialysis at the tail end of his career.  They had a big station wagon (the same kind of vehicle that I hope to hell will get us moved in tomorrow and Sunday) and a trailer, and they unleashed unholy hell all over this great land.

Buy his stuff.  No other people will understand why,  but trust me.  

It's that good.

When have I ever used bold and italics before?