Friday, May 26, 2006

possibly searching

We live in a part of the world where housing costs are completely ridiculous. The median sales price of a house in Modesto, for instance, is around $340,000, and the median income is under $50,000. Hardly anyone can reasonably afford to buy houses, so this is where people have started getting 50 year and 99 year mortgages. This can't last, it seems to me. But I don't know anything about real estate.

In any case, having looked at a couple mortgage calculators online, I can afford a house by being willing to pay $1700 a month in mortgage payments, if I could find a house for $230,000 or so. In that price range, you can buy a 690 square foot bungalow, if you can find one (there's one currently for sale). That's about 250 square feet smaller than our apartment. As a result, I regard myself as priced out of the homeowners' market here.

But we're thinking about someplace where we can grow tomatoes for ourselves. We checked out a townhouse joint today, and plan to go back to see one next week. Why the heck not?

Meanwhile, in Buffalo, the Sabres are getting beaten to a pulp. The Ducks are about to be stopped, so perhaps if I make a plea here that the "Carolina Hurricanes" should also be stopped, the Sabres will win the series. I could accept either Edmonton or Buffalo winning the Stanley Cup, but neither Anaheim nor "Carolina." That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

In other news, I wrote what may in fact be my first song last night, complete with lyrics. Maybe we'll record it soon. Who knows? We're crazy people.

Monday, May 22, 2006

two more demos, marginally better

Last week, when we recorded Only Living Boy in Turlock, we also recorded two others. I've used a couple special effects thingies from the recording software to help the sound quality on these.

Late Afternoon Lullaby is a song I started playing with a couple years ago, but ended up not being overly fond of. Lauren liked it a lot, and eventually wrote a lyric to it. There's some dropoff in the guitar part. I am a rank amateur (in every sense of the term rank), so I'm still figuring out how to make this software go at all, let alone to get good sound out of it, and let alone, apparently, consistently getting sound out of it, period. In any event, here 'tis.

Lancelot's Song was originally written as an encomium to the weird orange fluffy beast that shares our apartment with us. I told Lauren one day that I thought it would be cute to have a lyric for it that said something about cat experience. Her lyric is meant to be from the cat's perspective, though obviously greatly anthropomorphized, considering the tremendously narrow range of his conceptual life (limited as it is to One, Don't!, Love/Claw, and Whoop! Whoop!).

I could possibly post more of these, but need to find an alternative to uploading them to my old Geocities page, since I'm nearing their storage limit.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

been a long time

Yes it has.

Anyway, two things.

One: Tonight we recorded a demo of "Only Living Boy in Turlock" (words by Lauren, music by Chris, with special unsolicited, unwitting, and were it witting, certainly unwelcome assistance from a Mr. Simon of New York). We did a couple others too, and as usual I'm fussy about the sound quality, etc. The energy on this is good, though. I'll restrain myself from carping.

Two: So, I was sitting in my office, reading Spinoza, prepping for my Intro to Philosophy class tomorrow morning, when the phone rang. I had earlier left a message for Lauren at home, and figured she was calling back. It wasn't. No indeed, it was someone identifying herself as a student employee of a polling group housed at CSU San Marcos, calling to gather 15-20 minutes of my responses to a survey from the CSU Chancellor's Office concerning educational technology use, preparedness, and needs of faculty and students.

Cow State Santa Claus, like other CSUs, has an office of instructional technology. We also have a faculty committee on mediated and distance learning, another on academic technology. We survey ourselves continuously, both formally and informally, both quantitatively and qualitatively, about our educational technology use, preparedness, and needs. We survey ourselves silly. The Chancellor's Office collects data from campuses on educational technology use, preparedness, and needs. But apparently this isn't enough, and the Chancellor's Office has decided to survey faculty over the phone.

I didn't particularly want to participate, because I'm suspicious of Chancellor's Office initiatives, and because it seems redundant. Mainly, I didn't want to interrupt reading Spinoza, who's hard enough without phones ringing, and intriguing enough that once started I tend not to want to put him down.

The student surveyor seemed intent, and didn't take my initial no for an answer. She wanted to reschedule. Since I tend to use my time on campus intensively, I didn't want to have her call tomorrow, or Friday. So I asked if I could just take the survey online. This seemed reasonable to me.

But no, she said, there's no way to do the survey online. "That's ironic, isn't it?" I asked. The irony wasn't apparent to her. She asked again to reschedule, and split the survey up into parts. I asked her to mark me down as declining to participate.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

stop the ducks! for the love of pete, stop the ducks!

I hate the Anaheim Ducks, aka the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

I hate them because they are a Disney product. I hate them because they are an NHL team whose origin is a crappy kid movie made strictly to extort cash from suburbanites, who bought in hook, line, and puck. I hate them because Anaheim is in Orange County, which is about as diametrically opposed to hockey geography as you could find in North America.

But mainly I hate them for the 2002-2003 Stanley Cup Finals, which were boring in the very rare moments when they weren't unspeakably dull.

I hold grudges. It's a family trait. But when it comes to hockey, these grudges are serious. And when it comes to the trap, they're immensely serious.

For those out of the loop: Hockey is a sport that relies on speed, creativity, and the ability to respond to that creativity with shocking and hopefully debilitating violence. At its best, hockey is a sort of full-contact ballet with weapons. The trap is a defensive system that makes all of that impossible, in basic terms, by preventing anyone from moving. Its chief weapon is inertia. I'd compare it to paint drying, but drying paint is actually more dynamic than the friggin' trap.

The Ducks (TM, the mofos) got within a breath of the Stanley Cup by perfecting this abomination in the spring of 2003. They were only prevented from winning the Cup by the greater evil of the New Jersey Devils, who more or less invented the trap to compensate for their lack of talent, in an effort to defeat the insanely talented Pittsburgh Penguins of the early 1990s.

Ah, so it all comes down to defending the Pens, does it? Eh. Mebbe.

The Penguins could play, in that era. And if their opponents wanted to play tight defense, the Pens could do that, too, with the addition of three or four hideously speedy skaters who could spontaneously create offensive be-bop to stone the hippest of the hip.

The trap was specifically engineered to prevent any flow to the game. It made a virtue of being unable to move.

It's taken more than a decade for the hockey mandarins to work out that this kind of game is not only bad for business, but just isn't any good. My own feeling (and I confess that for me hockey is a moral matter) is that teams that played the trap should be banished from the playoffs for the same amount of time they subjected us fans to their horrible resentful version of this gorgeous art/sport/sublimated Thanatos instinct.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

weapons of mass destruction

According to a story published today in the San Francisco Chronicle, Donald Rumsfeld has been caught contradicting himself about the rationale for the Iraq war. Rumsfeld attempted to deny having said, on several occasions, that the Bushites were certain that Saddam Hussein had "large stockpiles" (Rumsfeld) of WMDs. But, as the story points out, in fact he did say that, on several occasions. In interviews after it became clear that there were no weapons to be found, Rumsfeld attempted, as he continues now to attempt, to deny having said anything as firm, direct, and categorical as every statement he had made. Frankly, he looks an ass doing that.

Now, he could have said, "well, I was wrong." He could have told the truth and said, "well, I was pushing a political agenda and didn't care what I said as long as it achieved the predetermined goal of attacking Iraq." Or he could have said, "ha ha ha! We lied! And you all bought it! Suckers!"

Or, and this is a strategy I hardly dare mention, for fear of its coming into favor, he could have responded thus:

"No, you see, I mispronounced a key word there. My assertion was actually about the appalling condition of public health measures in Iraq under Hussein. I meant to say 'wee-upons of mass destruction.' Honestly, you've never seen a urinal so filthy. Our intelligence indicated that restroom facilities there were unhygienic to the point of being serious hazards not only to Iraqis, but to the world."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

this is Modesto?

The Day Without Immigrants reached Modesto, of all places (the Central Valley isn't what you'd call a hotbed of political action of any sort, and certainly not political action that challenges prevailing attitudes or policies). Indymedia had a story with the surprising claim that 10,000 people marched down and back up Crows Landing Road in south Modesto. But the story linked to the Modesto Bee site, which concurred, with video.

Before I read that, I was gonna write a post about the unexplored problem of illegal emigration. Another time, perhaps.