Monday, February 28, 2005

Running, Eating, and Playing Games

Ok, I gotta update more often.

On the home front, things are going pretty well. My mother is getting more and more stable, which is really good to see. Let's just hope it continues.

Thursday we played Munchkin with our friends Clint&Kate, and it was a rocking good time. Friday we grabbed some Chinese food and veg'd out in front of the TV.

Saturday I got in a 6 mile run, slow as hell but I finished it. Today I'm supposed to 3 miles fast, and I'm looking forward to it being done and over with in a much quicker time :). I am NOT looking forward to running 6 miles again this weekend.

Saturday evening we got dinner out using a gift certificate we got at XMas from (again) Clint&Kate. It's always nice to eat out on a gift certificate, because you have an excuse to indulge yourself. We hit Borders after dinner and just browsed around. I bought a couple of books (I'll post about them as I get into them), as well as the new Tori Amos CD. This is the second new CD I've bought in 2K5 (first was U2's new one) after a substantial drought. Feel free to interpolate re: crackdown on file sharing, but really I've always bought the new albums by the select few artists whose work I consistently admire.

I say that, but then again this is only the 3rd U2 CD I've bought. Meh.

Sunday we got a lot of "have to do this" work done in the first half of the day. Homework, bills, housework, etc. I still have to get my car inspected, feh. Do that today I guess (no real choice :) ).

Over the weekend I also got in some good World of Warcraft time. My Warlock is L28, and I got up to 24 with my Mage playing with Clint. Good times! Still, the server Clint and I play on was down all day Saturday and into Sunday, and my primary guild server had a 30 minute queue Sunday night. So I spent a fair bit of time playing where I didn't want to be, feeling frustrated.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Days gone by

Damnit, I let a whole week go by without posting here. The whole point of this was to force myself to write more stuff down. That only works if I stick with it, right?

To be fair, I had an excuse. My mother was back in the hospital for a week after a medication change didn't go as well as hoped. She's doing okay now and is back home, though. My wife had a severe cold and I had a severe case of "playing too much World of Warcraft."

And now I have a severe case of "need to get some work done" so I'm gonna cut this short.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Musical Memories

Lately I've been listening to entire artists or albums rather than just leaving winamp on shuffle. Yesterday I went on an Iron Maiden binge, for example.

Today I browsed around until I stumbed onto an album I hadn't heard in years: Angel Rat, from Voivod.

Of course, there's a story behind this album.

As a high school student, I didn't have much in the way of musical experience. I ended up finding a college radio station out of Amherst College, where a late night DJ had a program called Disneyfist. I still remember this!

One late night while listening to Disneyfist, I dialed in and won this album. This was a major pain in the neck; I had to somehow get to Amherst and pick it up and had no car. I got it, eventually, and hell if I wasn't going to listen to it!

At first, I didn't really enjoy it much. But I didn't have as much music then as I do now (heh) so I ended up listening to it a dozen times or so and it really grew on me.

I eventually bought another one of their albums, which had a cover of Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine, which cemented my decision that the band was something cool. I had never heard the original of course, and didn't until years later when I borrowed a Best Of album from my mother.

The story spirals out from there, of course, and it gets far less interesting (if possible).

But the entire story, and threads reaching out from it in dozens of directions, slowly filled my mind as the album progressed (peaking when the title track started). I can even summon up the smell of my bedroom when I had the album (and listened to it over and over) -- the cheap overstuffed living room chair I used as a computer desk combined with the odor of candle wax.

And that is why I love music. It's not that I particularly love this album, or this band. But how else could I so clearly summon such concrete memories of a time 15 years or so in the past?

Go buy an album and listen to it. Sometimes random shuffle just isn't the right thing to do.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Welcoming Steve home

Thursday, we went to the base to welcome Steve home, which was an interesting event. It was a pretty subdued occasion, only like a dozen soldiers were coming home, so even with a full family there to welcome each one you're not talking about a mob or anything. But it was definitely memorable.

To set the scene, we're inside, in like a big garage- or cafeteria-type room (concrete floor, tall ceiling, bare walls, and a garage door leading in). There are maybe 12 tables set up, and a big table with coffee, kool-aid, and pastries (manned by USO volunteers). You've got fifteen to twenty family groups here, toddlers with "welcome home daddy" signs and older parents looking kind of serious. You've got Marines in camo milling around talking to the families. There's this sort of "everything is normal, how's the kids, how about those Pats, lousy weather today, eh" vibe going on, which slowly erodes as time passes and people realize how close they are to seeing their loved ones again.

Then I was able to witness a cool event; I heard one person tell another "they're almost to the front gate." This got repeated through the crowd until I heard (seconds later) someone say, "They're in the parking lot!" It was like all the pent up energy keeping the crowd near-silent came to a boil and everybody was chattering and moving around to get ready. There are all these flashes going off as people took pictures, and this look of deadly seriousness started to appear on some of the women's faces. "My husband/son/whatever is about to see me and I'm locked in" kind of look. Hard to describe.

When the garage door opened, the whole crowd started clapping. The bus pulled in and as the door opened the applause got louder and people started hooting and whistling. Marine after Marine stepped out and got swarmed by their loved ones.

Steve got out, and his two sons threw down their signs and charged him. I actually got off a picture of him on his knees with his two boys in his arms, his daughter and wife a couple steps away running towards him. It was a magic moment. Seconds later, all four of them are totally burying him and he's practically hidden from everyone else. Finally they let up and he gets to shake hands and hug everybody who was there. Maybe 10 minutes of "hi, thanks for coming" "welcome home" "we missed you" etc went by, and then Brenda pushed him into the minivan and they drove off.

And we went home. It was kind of surreal, because you had all this anticipation, all this emotion, and then it was over. On an intellectual level we knew he was home, but something about it didn't feel solid, because the event itself took place at a weird spot.

This was cured on Saturday when we went back out there and spent a few hours with him and the family just shooting the shit. It was a relaxed time, and it sort of re-established the fact that he was home and things were returning to normal.

Welcome home, Steve. We missed you!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


What a weekend!

Superbowl Sunday, obviously, was the highlight. I ran 5 miles in the morning and came home to watch the Pats step up BIG TIME. Go Pats! We'll be telling our kids (if we have kids, heh) about these years, I tell you.

Saturday was a more laid back day, lots of food preparation, TV watching, and video game playing. Not bad at all!

Along those lines, I have some random thoughts for you:
  • Jess's brother Steve is on his way home; he should be back on US soil by now and perhaps home this weekend!
  • Season One of 24 was groundbreaking, but a little weak at the end (to me).
  • I still can't wait to start Season Two.
  • Shrek 2 was still entertaining even the second time around.
  • "Roving Rally" just doesn't have the same ring that Victory Parade does.
  • WoW is still fun; I'm creeping up on having 4 or 5 L20 characters. Silly me.

Friday, February 04, 2005

It's Friday, and nobody wants to work. Discuss.

Ah, lunch break. Work beckons, but does so very weakly. Like a tiny little insect under a big glass dome.

So, for your pleasure, here are some random tidbits.
  • I ran 3 miles today, bringing my weekly total to 13. This is the most I have run in a week, ever, so I feel pretty badass today.
  • I am scheduled to run 5 miles on Sunday. Not sure how I'll do that, though. Treadmill? Home? Gym? Or outdoors? I need to find a 5-mile outdoor route if I'm going that way. Either way, 5 miles is most definitely a distance record for me.
  • I heard from my brother for the first time in 8 months. Eight months! Evidently he's alive and mostly well, and has changed religions again (LDS evidently doesn't just refer to that Star Trek IV joke). Very interesting.
  • Jess's brother Steve should be home from Iraq within a few weeks, maybe even two weeks. Here's hoping for a safe and uneventful series of flights home.
  • My 2 all-day classes got canceled for next week. Hmm, I guess this means I can call Charter and get them to bring me HDTV!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Midweek Braindump

Sorry about that long post last time, got carried away. Today's is just a random mess.

I still have no HD cable; I emailed Charter and they haven't responded. I'll have to call them and do this the old-fashioned way. Damnit, join the 21st century, people.

The external HDD is working out great, though. Having all my music at my fingertips at work, no CD-swapping ... it's a beautiful thing. I'm hearing music I haven't heard in ages, because I just don't listen at home as often as I used to.

Steve should be coming home from Iraq in a couple weeks. Step one in that process is done; he's been moved from one place in Iraq to another. In about a week, he gets on a plane for California. A week or so after that, he should be home. We're all looking forward to that.