Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ster eeh! yiye! eeh! yiye! Yo!

Seperating the wheat from the chaffe here.
If you see this diagram

and then this visual below...and your heartbeat doesn't accelerate to the point where your tongue is throbbing and beating out drum beats on the roof of your mouth such that your sounds are emanating to distant villages announcing a pig roast at the family hut tonight, don't bother reading on. You have the cold, calculating heart of an engineer and the point of this post will be lost on you. That, or you may simply consider this the ravings of a technologically obtuse bonehead..

Now, if you look at these two diagrams and consider them to be basically different versions of the same dilemna, let me welcome you to the fine world of DIY car stereo installation.
One long weekend ago, when Spring's weather had finally arrived and while neighbours were busy creating their own cacophonous odes to the peace and quiet of home ownership, I'd elected to solve a small problem in my car. It was a problem that was slowly turning into the long lost novel by Philip K. Dick, perhaps the follow-up to his “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”.

The original factory Toyota cd player / tape deck / martini shaker had started to take on a soul, a mind of its own. A year ago, perhaps once or twice a month, it refused to play some of the cd’s that sounded fine in the home unit. Then, as the year passed along, its selectivity and rejection phase juggernauted to where it considered most of my jazz cd’s of the Passe Blasé school and some of the blues cd’s as too depressing for it to listen to. If the cd player wasn’t shooting the cds out, it was skipping back and forth so that songs sounded as if the notes were on a trampoline.

A friend once illustrated the level of acceptance that a human being will come to with a story of home repairs.
There was some problem with one of his walls. It was a sheet-rocked wall, in front of which was his tv set. A blemish, perhaps. Maybe a screw that had popped out a millimeter or two.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
Repairing this mote of an error started with removing the screw, re-drilling a new one…well…mis-drilling that new one. Now, there’s a new hole next to the original screw hole. To correctly fix the new hole, it had to be widened so a patch could be inserted. And, then to do a professional job…. Well, later that day, the hole is now about 8 x 5 inches. He is exasperated. A ball game is on. He sits, beer in one hand, clicker in the other, tools strewn like spent cartridges around the set.
The hole was quite apparent; it sat like a fat shining moon right over the tv set. A day or two passed. And then a week. The hole was still there, unchanged in size. Yet, it wasn’t as visible. A month passed and it disappeared. Well, it didn’t appear in his view. Friends came over and remarked on the hole. They came over a few more times and soon that hole disappeared for them as well.

The cd player was my hole. The skipping was annoying at first and then it became the fabric of my daily commute. I used to drive to work alone. I now commuted with a thing with different musical tastes. The rejection of my choices was becoming less and less frustrating. The only time it seemed to matter was when a new body drove with me. Luckily for them and for me, these new folks didn’t drive often enough to be taken in completely by my cd android’s self-actualizing. This ultimately saved me from the fate that was certain to happen; I would start talking like my android, words skipping from front to back, punctuation totally abolished, and intonation having a complete disconnect from intention.

The ever-loving wife, not as likely to be taken in by androids or the inevitability of a “Blade Runner” world, decided that further mental disintegration on her husband’s part was not in her best interest. It was hard enough understanding my pithy obtuseness without having to deal with sentences constructed in the haphazard stylings of a Pollock. A gift certificate to Crutchfield was in order.

Memories of summers long ago spent on my back in the trunk of a car, on my back under the steering wheel, on my back under the glove compartment came in waves. I was young, I was limber, I was skinny, I had the contortive abilities of Harry Houdini. Ah, sweet youth!

The ordered cd player/stereo/tuner unit arrived. In three days! With sweaty paws, I ripped through the shrink wrap, suffering my first cut of many to come. Changing to stereo work clothes, loose paint-splattered jeans, a t-shirt of Great Grubbiness (guaranteed to keep spectators and skunks at least 10 feet away), and shoes of indeterminate brand, I dragged the necessary tools and the refit kit that came with the stereo out to the car. Carefully laying out the tools, like a surgeon about to take on heart surgery, I prepared the work area.
The work could now begin.
Putting my head down by the brake pedal, I threw my legs up on the head-rest of the driver’s seat.
A light twinge by the neck. Ouch!
A throbbing of the leg muscle and then that old sciatic nerve seizure.
I’d forgotten.
I wasn’t young. My limber had turned to old timber. Skinny? Not going there. And as far as contortion was concerned, words were the only thing that I could easily meld and bend.

(to be continued...after I Ben-Gay the joints)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

In a memorable comic monologue that the late Bill Hicks concocted, he imagined the court scene in L.A., when Officer Coons of the LAPD was acquitted of assault charges relating to Mr. Rodney King. At one point, during the trial, Officer Coons insisted that he was innocent of all charges. Reacting to such an imaginative claim, Mr. Hicks noted that Mr. Coons must have carried in his, umm, family jewels to the court room in a wheelbarrow, as his claim of innocence truly needed a large collection of...jewels. (cd of this bit is available here).

In Delaware, where we are, again, currently in search of another state motto (this seems a process occurring every 5 years), life is fairly calm and quiet.
A recent event may have us calling Officer Coons to borrow his wheelbarrow.
Today was graduation day at the University of Delaware. A proud day for students to receive acknowledgement for four (or more) years of work put toward the attainment of a degree. Now, maybe the work they put in wasn't hard for all, but one would assume it was at least honest work.
One person was there with the graduating class. He was in cap and gown. But he wasn't going to receive his degree. Seems he was caught cheating in a Corporate Ethics quiz.

Cheating in a
Corporate Ethics class.

I did a double-take the first time I read it. Irony isn't the word for this. Comedy would be a better fit.
He lawyered up and claimed himself innocent of cheating. No one else in that class was accused of the same act. Only him.
Now, if you were one of the people sitting there at the ceremony, would you feel just a bit demeaned by the presence of this cheater?

Sure, the University did not give him a degree.
But, the University's lawyer could have been a bit more inventive in getting to a just compromise.
Had the lad rolled in with Officer Coon's wheelbarrow to the ceremony, a point would have been made. And Mr Hicks would have been touched to know that he was remembered.

Friday, May 27, 2005

No, not that MADD. I'm putting a downpayment down toward my Apology to anyone who ends up here, googling for MADD due to sadness, anger, or justification of drunk driving.
This entry has nothing to do with this fine organization.
This entry has nothing to do with drinking and driving and death.
Please notice the periods between the letters.

This piece has to do with Musical Attention Deficit Disorder. For anyone familiar with ADD, one of the first things that is apparent is there is no deficit of attention; in fact there is an intensity of attention, but, unfortunately, not attention directed to the topic or to the person that everyone else is concentrated on at that moment. ADD should really be an acronym for Attention Direction Disorder.

I believe I have M.A.D.D. I believe a lot of other people do as well.
We honored few all self-medicate. Medication usually comes in the forms of cd's, albums, or even tapes. In fact, I'm sure (though without a stitch of proof) we M.A.D.D.ers are the people supporting cd sales today. While a lot of people are downloading like mad (though no like M.A.D.D.) bypassing cd purchases, we maintain our steady drive. We are crazed with the music, but we also like the cd covers/inserts/info packets.
We devour the lyrics sheets, the band information, even the production notes. We put the cd in our players or in our pc's and we play the same disc until we are sated.
We have lasered our pure attention toward the cd until it is burned into our heads.
Then we are worn out with that musical pkg.

Perhaps it's thrown away or passed on to someone else.
Perhaps, it will stay with us until our casket is closed for, in addition to being struck down with M.A.D.D., we had been bitten at an early age, perhaps even in our cribs, by a packrat. So, the cd, though thoroughly squeezed of its musical content, is still filed away or surreptitiously placed somewhere in the confines of one's hovel.
Perhaps it will be brought out and sucked on one more time to assure us that there are no notes left.
Perhaps it will never be played again, just another dried out carcass of muscial art.
Perhaps the ever-loving wife will notice the latter condition and renew the Campaign of the Giveaway.

But no perhaps about this. I've worn out John Ellis. It's time for fresh blood. Bill Frisell & Paul Motian seem like they're full of energy and vibe. Well, full enough for a week or two.

Bed of Nails
That God of Unforgiveness, Time, bulldozes on, laughing at any of my attempts at multi-reading. Sleep, the Goddess of Forgetfulness, has joined herself with Time. I have to break up this alliance, if I want to rid myself of any of my Albatrosses of the bibliophilic variety.
The only solution that I've come up with is to minimize the zzzz's. My bed is comfort. I lay on it. A book is cracked open. I'm doing the dozy-doze in 3-5 minutes, the book slipping off to the left and clattering onto the floor. Just before I slip off, I swear I hear it moaning for attention.
Change the comfort level of the bed. Forget those Select Comfort Beds. Don't think Excruciating Pain is one of their selection possibilities.
What I'm looking for is a Bed Of Nails.
IKEA offered no solutions. No beds called SKREEM or PUNKTUURE.

This will have to be a DIY project. It's Memorial Day weekend. 3 days of potential reading. Minimal Sleep.
Maybe I should try a Bed of Screws?
Sheet of plywood.
Large box of 3 inch wallboard screws. 250 should be enough.
One hour tops for completion. Powerdrilling also minimizes the attendant cursing that would accompany hammering 250 nails.
Got to get to it! Mr. Whisky Prajer is adding must-reads at a dizzying speed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It promises to be a fairly nice long weekend, weatherwise. Plus, it's the first long weekend of the summer, so stupidity of all sorts will be sprung on you. Who knows, you may be springing in on yourself and others. Hot sun, hot exhausts, long line of still cars, minimal wind. All grains of sand irritating your Pearls of Stupidity. Here's a short bit from a blog entry from Mental Multivitamin. You should read the balance if you're not familiar with this Bill Engvall schtick. (I'm not saying he's Bill Hicks or Lewis Black, but this bit of his is funny)

"Stupid people should have to wear signs that just say, "I'm stupid." That way you wouldn't rely on them, would you? You wouldn't ask them anything. It would be like, "Excuse me...oops...never mind. 'didn't see your sign." .

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cultural Creative
Not sure what this told me about What is (my) World View?

Except that my results were :

You scored as Cultural Creative.
Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative 94%
Idealist 56%
Modernist 50%
Postmodernist 38%
Existentialist 31%
Materialist 25%
Romanticist 25%
Fundamentalist 6%

The confusing part was the tie at 25% for Materialist and Romantic. If I was truly Romantic, wouldn't the only thing I'd need be paper, pen, and a sharp knife to spill my blood? That doesn't sound equally materialistic, does it?

Taking the cue, that Romanticism and love are all just illnesses/hot flashes anyway, I headed off for additional professionally based analysis and found that Romantics are just basically your vanilla depressives. My scores at What mental disease do YOU have? resulted in the following:

You scored as Unipolar Depression.
Congratulations! You are depressed! You know just how it feels to bear all the world's burdens, and the value of a 19-hour night's sleep. And you really hate that circle-guy thing on your Zoloft pill packets.

Unipolar Depression 92%
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 67%
Borderline Personality Disorder 50%
Antisocial Personality Disorder 42%
Eating Disorders 42%

A nice pint of Arrogant Bastard Ale is called for. I shall imbibe and then deal with my World View Mental Disease.
As my old world aunts used to say, "Stop with the thinking; it only gives you complexes."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Iceland Watch
As a regular irregularly timed feature of this blog, I give you the Iceland photo rating entry. This photo of an Icelandic Horse, from JNB Daniels was not rated highly at all. I had to point it out to you, though, because it's rare (well at least in my case) that an animal has that Veronica Lake come-hither look. Or so it seems to me at least.

Today's #1 googled image of Iceland is from Camilla in Australia. The last time, I'd googled Iceland, this Anders Brownworth photo was #1. He'd had quite a long run as #1; he's now #2, so he's still within striking distance of the Most Googled Iceland Photo.

Yes, there are awards for everyone.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

From the May 16th Philly Inquirer, reporting on Fed's Mr. Greenspan giving commencement speech at Wharton School of Business (emphasis is mine),

"Alan Greenspan asked the Class of 2005 at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School yesterday to find success "without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake."

Making his case with economics, history and his trademark circumlocution, the Federal Reserve Board chairman also asked the freshly minted MBAs seated at Franklin Field to put their educations to work immediately.

"Of necessity, therefore, in virtually all our transactions, whether with customers or with colleagues, with friends or with strangers, we rely on the word of those with whom we do business," he said at one point in his commencement speech.

Greenspan won applause in the end.

"Material success is possible in this world, and far more satisfying, when it comes without exploiting others," he said.

Laura Moolenaar of Sydney, Australia, whose daughter graduated, said, "His commentary on integrity is what this generation needs, what we all need."...

Mr. Greenspan, his wife, and posse soon repaired themsleves to a local restaurant, where thrills, spills, & fun was had by all.

Well, almost all.

The gratuity that was deemed sufficient by the wealthy Mr. Greenspan amounted to an exploitive 15%. Luckily for the dinner guests, no employees of the restaurant had a chance to attend Mr. Greenspan's speech and point out the disconnect between the speechifying and the tipifying.

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's in the Bag
While I'm glad that P.M. Tony Blair has made it back for round three, despite hanging around with that guy from Texas, I'm at a loss as to one of the mysteries of British royal behaviour. Here, Mr. Blair is receiving congratulations from the Queen Mother (or is that the Mother Queen?) at her residence. Now, I realize (though not through personal experience) that well-behaved servants are hard to recruit these days, especially ones that give you a sense of comfort in youor own house.
But, you would think that the staff at Buckingham Palace can be relied upon. I'm sure they are put through the most vigorous screening and interviewing. You would think these folks can be trusted. Why, then, would the Queeen have to carry her purse around, even in her own house? Is she carrying around the British version of the nuclear launch codes? Or is the wait staff so slow that she's packing Twinkies or a bit of bread and that yeast spread the English are wild about. You know, the stuff that counteracts effects of the Black Plague and the return of Margaret Thatcher. What's in the bag? Perhaps the ever-informative Mr. F. C. Bearded could come up with an inventive solution to this quandry?

Perhaps the black purse is just a more refined Linus blanket? Even the Queen needs her comfort.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Barking up a Tree

The ever-loving wife occasionally sashays over to this web site to see what I've been up to. Those times that I disappear up to the 3rd floor are a mystery she'd rather not deal with. Her inner need to organize causes her great consternation as she mounts the stairs to get upstairs. If there were medication I could give her while she's up here to minimize the queasiness she experiences as she look s around, I would. Usually, she says nothing to me about her visitations to this site. If Verging on Pertinence, were a church, she would leave a candle burning, glad to see that there is activity happening in the grey matter. On a few visits, she's deemed it necessary to, like Mr. M. Luther, post some notes on my door, or rather, on my noggin. A reading of the Dragon Tree got her opinionating juices flowing.
In the interest of being fair-minded to her and to any other readers of the female persuasion, I took in her point-making (ouch! ouch!) and came up with today's post.
The item in the Dragon tree post concerned a (stylish, I believe) picture of a woman, (and a Professor of Dance, at that) perched delicately in a tree. A dancer in a tree seemed to be a tad too sexist, well at least to the ever-loving wife. I tried to explain that I didn't want the professor in my office, whether in her dancing leotard or in a business suit. The post that day dealt with the impossibility of my little dragon plant growing up to be a dragon tree. If that were ever to happen, a just reward, I thought, for my little plant-that-could, would be to have Professor Fogel perform her work, "Dragon Tree, Waterfall, Tea" in my dragon tree.
It's not as if I fantasize of women in dramatic poses hanging about my office. Minimizing drama in my office is one of my main duties; why would I need more? Excessive drama can only lead to.....opera. My stand on the latter has already been duly noted.

As a courtesy and a step toward better male:female, husband:ever-loving wife understanding, I offer Men in Trees here. Please note the discomfort of these arborially trapped fellows. We men are not one with the trees; it is not our natural milieu.

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