Thursday, December 28, 2006

Frankenschwergängigkeit

There used to be a long rivet where that bolt is. RIP, long rivet. I think the new look fits well with the duct tape on my pants leg.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"You're not getting out of here without chains on,"

I said to this guy in the parking lot today. What was in my head was, "But I'm about to." He polished snow, burned rubber, and generally failed to get his giant pickup truck out. It was 2WD, but apparently his chains didn't fit (or he didn't know how to put them on, something else I didn't say.)

This was my first snowbound parking lot in the new car. It did quite well. The weather gods dumped about 7" over the course of the day, which is 1/2" short of the ground clearance the Subaru has. I have chains, traction pads, and a snow shovel, none of which I used, and a scraper that I did. After deciding that there wasn't any more I could do to help the pickup truck guy, short of throwing him in the bed of the truck and driving it myself - I'm not sure, but I think that with gentle clutch work that truck could have been driven out sans chains - I returned to brushing snow off my car and some girls in a giant SUV asked if I knew how to install chains. I looked at theirs, which looked properly mounted, gave a cable a pull and didn't get much movement, and told them to drive a while and re-check it. So of course they went back to trying to tighten it. Whatever. In hindsight, I can't help wondering if they were driving a 4WD, in which case they had the chains on the wrong wheels.

Anyway, with most of the snow brushed off the Subaru, I decided to see if I could get to the road without mounting my chains.

Got in the car.

Started it. Put it in reverse.

Backed up. Slowly. Some resistance, but the car was moving.

Started turning. Still moving.

Ran out of room behind me. Put it in '3.' Started driving forward. It's moving.

Started turning. Joined the ruts left by the other vehicles leaving the lot. Still no problems.

SWEET!

So now I've had three chain-free driving episodes that would have required them in my previous car. I think today's was the most challenging, but it makes me feel pretty optimistic about getting to Sugarbowl tomorrow in whatever the plows have left of the foot of snow we're supposed to get overnight. I think that if they plow the little road near the cabin any time between now and then, I'll be fine, and if they don't, I'll have to dig my way out to the main road, chains or not.

iTunes doesn't rock

Not that it's not a good program. But they assign several attributes to songs, including genre. At the moment, I only have a few albums, one each by Motorhead, Megadeth, Skid Row and Judas Priest. According to iTunes, Megadeth is metal. OK so far. But then they list Motorhead and Judas Priest as rock. Depending on the album, I suppose both are arguable. But they did also help define the genre, especially Priest. Rob Halford introduced the leather look to metal (rumor has it, because he liked it on the motorcycle Village Person,) and has held the title of "Metal God."

After saying that Judas Priest and Motorhead aren't metal, iTunes goes on to say that Skid Row is. I suppose that I'll have to give iTunes that one, because if Skid Row was never metal, Metallica wouldn't have taken the genre away from them. But it's a little like giving Green Day credit for being punk, grunge, or anything else other than sucky.

I bet Apple likes them, though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why can't someone who doesn't have a snowboard work on Friday?

If I had just a little more chutzpah, I'd go to my boss and ask him that tomorrow. After a week of the weather gods turning the cold (warm?) shoulder toward us, there's supposed to be 4" of new snow during the day on Thursday and 10" during the night.

I don't remember if Julio knows how to snowboard, but Gianfranco doesn't. And I don't think Gonzalo does either. How many custodians really need to be on duty at once, anyway? I don't mind giving up a few hours of pay to float down mountains.

At least I don't start until noon. Someone named Andrew will be setting his alarm half an hour early on Friday to make sure to have time for both breakfast and digging out the car.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Survived Donner Pass

And I didn't have to eat anyone. The new job seems to consist mainly of cleaning toilets and stocking paper towel and toilet paper dispensers. So, kind of boring. I also empty the trash cans when the bags get too full and vacuum the carpets. On the other hand, I got a couple turns in before my shift started yesterday. Sweet.

Today's festivity was to drive to the Target (pronounced tar-jay) in Sparks and get some stuff that I needed for the cabin. Now there's a curtain on my window and I've got some new objects to ride around in the back of the car. We'll see how long my new red snow shovel lasts.

It rained today, and looks like doing so for a fair amount of this week. I found a really good ski conditions web site. I was going to say it wasn't good for forecasts, then I discovered that it does that pretty well too.

Ski Bonk

Ski Bonk dude, if you're reading this, you rock.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Apple: You're on notice

I recently acquired an iPod Nano. It's a really cool little device, and mine's black which anyone who knows me would expect. So now I'm trying to rip a couple of CDs, Skid Row and Megadeth's Greatest Hits, and it's turning out to be very complicated. iTunes can recognize the CD as a drive and the tracks as files, but it's supposed to mount directly into iTunes and doesn't, and it's also supposed to download all the title, artist, etc. information so that I don't have to. I'm successfully importing files ripped by Windows Media Player as we speak. (Well, hopefully it's successful.) But come on, Apple. You've built your business on selling to users who don't hack.

Apple doesn't even have an option to contact technical support that I could find. I've posted to a user forum, so hopefully someone else has already solved this particular problem. Update forthcoming if I don't get distracted.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Travelling sucks

For the people who follow my life the way I follow “Dexter” on Showtime, here’s today.

I got up around 9:30 or 10 and reposted my ad on Craig’s List to try to sublet my apartment, which has been pretty frustrating. I also logged on to a bunch of car insurance web sites and worked on a final packing job for my trip out to California. Finally filled out the change of address thing on the USPS web site, too. A number of insurance companies couldn’t get the zip code I’ll have through their little brains. Guess I didn’t need their insurance anyway. I settled on AAA – their rate is competitive with the best offers I got and they were recommended to me by one of my favorite people. I got through a lot of the application process and then had to stop until getting some information from my father, but also because I was meeting a friend for lunch.

After lunch I showed the apartment to a couple people. The last person who came happened to come at a time that my roommate happened to be home and they could meet, which has been a major stumbling block in the whole process this time. He liked the place. Roommate liked him. Worked for me. So we went to HSBC and pulled a bunch of money out of an ATM and then I finished packing my laptop, got everything into the lobby, and hailed a gypsy cab.

The specific amount that I payed that cab driver is going to be sealed away in a vault for twenty years and opened only for our children’s children who will be ready to handle it. Along with UFOs and the Kennedy assassination. However, I don’t have five arms and I would have needed them because I grossly underestimated the capacity of my seabag and ended up with a seabag stuffed full, a carryon piece that I think has never been as densly packed as it is right now, a snowboard with extra stuff shoved in the bag next to it, a messenger bag with some extra pairs of boots, and another small bag with my snowboard boots, which I stuffed with socks in a vain attempt to save space. The thing is that I don’t think I could pack any more efficiently. I need clothes, which are in the carryon. I also need my hand tools in order to pick up freelancing gigs, which may or may not happen but will cover the additional cost of bringing tools in one job. The board and boots are a no-brainer, I’d like to go dancing more than once in the next five months, and one pair of casual, comfortable footwear seems like a fairly reasonable desire.

I need new luggage. That doesn’t suck. I need a big suitcase with wheels and space for things and a handle that comes out the top. I need a carryon piece with no tears in the seams and zippers that all have pulls. I need one of those snowboard uber-cases that has room for a board, boots, maybe a helmet, and maybe even a little bit of clothing.

So that’s yet another item for the growing list of stuff that I can’t live without for another minute. I’ll probably get it about the same time as I get snowboard pants that don’t have duct tape trim, an XBOX and HDTV, a laptop that can play games made in the last two years, and maybe a Lotus just to round out the collection.

Whining about my material wants aside, I got to the airport with a fair amount of time before my flight. I went to one of the little terminal things to check in and discovered that I couldn’t check more than two bags. D’oh! So I went to the line to check in with a real, live human being. He had the same last name as me. So I piled all the bags on the plate thing and he commented that it seemed silly to pay an extra pile of money for a fourth bag if I could maybe do it in three bags instead, and went to find a box. Shortly afterwards, he returned with one and I emptied the contents of my two smaller bags into it. Eddie L. Wright, you rock.

So I’m finally divested of my four pieces of checked luggage and I’m down to a rolly-bag, laptop, and helmet. Score.

I got to the security checkpoint with enough time left. Not the margin I’d wanted, but enough. So I get to the front of the line and do the little taking-off-the-metal dance. Which for me takes a while. Boots with nickel-plated rings. Belt with eyelets. Change, keys, cellphone. Jacket and vest. Laptop has to come out of the bag and into a bin. Laptop bag gets a bin. Toothpaste has to come out of the little bathroom kit burried in my carryon. And it’s another item that TSA has taken from me, but at least a cheap one. I think they have declared a vendetta against style and hygiene. At least I ditched my hair products (don’t ask how many) in New York. I may stop carrying bags on the plane on future flights, at least when I’m not already exceeding my checked baggage limit. On a self-congratulatory note, I did manage to walk through the metal detector on my first try. Of course I forgot to take my massive, stainless steel watch off. I wonder what other massive stainless steel items I might get through…

So after much drama, I finally got onto the plane. And we sat on the runway. For an hour and a half. Actually in the air writing this. I feel all jet-set. Now… Computer games.

So the rest of the trip went alright. I landed in San Francisco only about forty-five minutes late. I think the pilots probably secretly like it when they get delayed for take-off, because they get to push the plane a little for the rest of the flight. I took my helmet on as a personal item or something, and on the way off, the crewmember commented that he didn't think I needed it. At the baggage claim, the box I used to duck the extra excess baggage fee showed up looking pretty destroyed, but the stuff that was in it is all fine. I really need new luggage.

It's a pantheon. Gotta be.

I’ve suspected for a long time that the world is too big a responsibility for a single deity to handle. On the other hand, I’m generally a One God kind of guy. I’ve decided that the way to reconcile these beliefs is with a multiple-incarnations pantheon. All deities eventually run into a single entity, like streams joining rivers and running out into the ocean. As of around 1:30 this afternoon, my favorite example is the weather in the San Francisco Bay Area. How is it that the weather can be foggy in the Sunset district, sunny downtown, windy but clear crossing the Golden Gate and in the Marin headlands, cold, wet and foggy another mile or two north on the Pacific side and sunny in Sausalito? I think that there are a lot of weather gods operating in the Bay Area and they don’t bother to coordinate when they’re deciding what to do.

The way the incarnations work is that if the single entity at the top decides something’s important, that entity will incarnate as a tremendously powerful being that can handle it. It’s not that the main entity can’t – it’s that it’s a little bit too much dissipation of focus to be pleasant. That second-tier being then incarnates as various middle-management types to cover different aspects of the job, and they then incarnate as other, smaller entities which have the ability to incarnate as gremlins, spirits, etc. If something’s relatively small but seems to have a distinct personality, it probably has its own. Older computers, my Volvo, probably the BQE and each of the bridges out of Manhattan all have small to midsized beings responsible for them.

Different beings, of course, have different personalities. The weather gods responsible for Lake Tahoe are kind of like very talented stoners. When they put their minds to it, they can make an amazing season. But, fairly often, no storms will hit until fairly late, or rainstorms will come a little earlier in the spring than we might, perhaps, desire. I suppose if a mere mortal were to call the weather gods on these inconsistencies, they’d say something along the lines of, “Sorry dude. Forgot.”

The traffic gods, on the other hand, are pretty vindictive. They demand blood sacrifice. I think they also have some hand in parking tickets. It takes an evil force to give me two in the space of forty minutes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Dude Abides (LITTLE SPOILERS AHEAD)

My brother told me a while ago that I had to watch The Big Lebowski in order to be properly a member of my generation. Kind of like my older cousins and Clerks. So I did because I just finished fighting my bike into a box that looks like something a very large mouse might eat and I was eating some dinner.

My first instinct is to trash-talk the movie because nothing much happens in it and it didn't make me feel anything in particular. It had some funny moments, but nothing that funny. I didn't care enough about the character that got killed for it to bother me. Basically I just spent about an hour and a half watching a movie in which nothing happens, and I will never get that hour and a half back.

Then I started to realize something. An hour and a half in which nothing much happens is a pretty good metaphor for many people's lives. I don't know too many of them lately because I moved to New York in order to do something, and I'm surrounded by people who did too. And it's not like nothing much happens in the movie. A lot of truly bizarre things happen, and they start when the main character is mistaken for someone of the same name but with more money. Most of the time, he just exists.

To return to people I do know, I think I've decided that I agree with my brother. While I don't see them much lately, I believe there to be a big contingent of my generation that went back home after college and have stayed there. The Dude's life, and theirs, are like the eye of a hurricane - amid all the noise and violence, an area of calm.

I don't know if I'm going to give Joel and Ethan Coen credit for being the next Sartre. I'd have to read the guy before I could make any kind of judgment. But the Dude is a pretty good Woyzeck for our times, or at least the 90's.

I don't know if I'm ready to say that it's a good movie just because it reminds me of a play I read that's supposed to be exemplary of a philosophical movement I can't claim to knowing that well. But I can't say it's a bad movie either, because it's expressive of a kind of malaise that I think effects a lot of people my age.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dude... Where's my car?


Evidently I've forgotten about how much money it cost me to own a car, because I'm doing it again. It's a 2001 Subaru Forester. Should be pretty sweet.

Picture taken by my uncle John.