Thursday, October 14, 2004

You shall know them by their geekiness

As I stated in a previous post, I am a certified weather geek. I come by this honestly. My Dad was a private pilot and also a flight instructor. When I was a kid, he often taught "ground school" at our house, where several aspiring pilots would gather to watch educational film strips. These film strips seemed old THEN, and if I know my Dad, they were probably made in the 1950s, because according to him nothing manufactured after the 1960 Nash Rambler was ever worth a damn. The film strips came in little canisters like 35mm film does now, and were accompanied by LP records. You would stick the beginning of the film strip into a special projector that had a record player built in, and start the LP; "bleeps" on the record would tell you when to advance to the next slide. The projector was delighfully low tech and had a really cool, "3-in-1 Oil" smell.

Dad would often let me sit in on these ground school sessions and run the projector, as long as I kept my mouth shut. Thus, I was learning about occluded fronts while other boys my age were learning about RBIs (that's a baseball term for "runs batted in," Lisa). Personally, I loved the stuff and found it endlessly fascinating. I mean, how could you not? We're talking cumulonimbus here!

Weather is a big deal to pilots for obvious reasons. It's also a big deal in the agrarian Midwest. One of the few things I miss about the Midwest is the apocalyptic thunderstorms, when the lightning is strobe-like in its frequency, the rain comes down as if through God's own spigot and the huge cottonwood trees in our back yard would flap around in the tornadic wind like giant stalks of overripe celery.

Lisa, bless her, appreciates my weather geekery and for my birthday got me a weather station ( a Weathertech FX 6000....oooooooh.) It consists of two pieces placed outside the house (an anemometer and a temperature/humidity sensor) that communicate via radio waves with a base station in the house. The base station looks like this

As you can see, it also has a barometric pressure sensor and, for enhanced geekiness, a moon phase indicator and a clock that gets its time from the U.S. atomic clock! I have put the outside bits in a temporary location in front of the house; being new homeowners, we have yet to get a ladder so I can put the anemometer on the top of the house where it belongs. Maybe I can do that this weekend. Might as well clean the gutters while I'm at it, since every weathergeek Portlander knows that the monsoon is soon to arrive!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

$12.50 My Ass!

Our newest cat, Buster, is a very active and inquisitive boy. He's a riot because he's one of those cats that wants to play with everything. By the same token, he also needs lots of stuff to keep him occupied (maybe he has ADHD?)

I noticed that he liked to intentionally bat his little furry mouse toys underneath doors and the stove and then have fun trying to dig them out. So the last time I was in our neighborhood pet store, I seriously considered getting him a "Bizzy Kitty Entertainment Center," which looks like this:

However, the thing cost $12.50! So I thought, "$12.50 my ass! I can take a cardboard box and carve holes in it."

So, that's what I did, using an empty cat litter box. Not a very highly designed looking piece of engineering, I admit. At first, Buster (and Buddy) where a little confused by the thing.

But once I shook it to let Buster know there was a mouse in there, it was "game on!"

Ha! Just like in the ad! Another mission accomplished for "dull edge man!"

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The great dull-edge challenge

Now that I have a chance to spend more time doing arty stuff, I've been having trouble finding the motivation. Not a new problem, but one I've decided I'm going to try to solve this time. So I thought back to the days when I was writing a lot of music in my late 20s/early 30s. What was I doing then that I'm doing differently now? That's a complicated question, but an inescapable factor was the fact that I didn't do much drinking at home during that time. Certainly, I would pound a few when I was out with friends or at band rehearsal. But I rarely had beer or wine at home. So I've decided to knock off drinking at home.

Now, I didn't drink that much, rarely more than 2-3 glasses of wine or 2-3 bottles of beer. But I've been doing that every single night. And since I've been showing signs of being mildly depressed -- not interested in things I used to be interested in, not a lot of energy, general apathy, just kind of "existing" -- I figured a good approach would be to maybe knock off the depressants. Duh!

Currently, I'm in day three of no drinking, and it seems my energy level is already up. The last couple of days, I've spent the afternoons finally getting the house in order. I mounted a coat rack on the wall by the door, mopped and scrubbed the floors, and just generally tidied and organized the living room/kitchen area. That's not big stuff, but it's stuff that I've been meaning to do for several weeks and just haven't "gotten around" to even though I've been home all day with plenty of opportunity.

Today I went to a local department store (the mighty Fred Meyer) and got an entry way table in which we can store our dog walking/poopy bag/grungy out-and-about paraphernalia. Again, something I've been meaning to do for weeks but now suddenly had the energy to accomplish.

It will be very interesting to see how this pans out. It would put me pretty square into the "straight edge" camp, a philosophy of no alcohol, no tobacco, no casual sex (no problem there, happily). Hard-core straight edge types tend to also eschew meat products and caffeine, the goal being a unencumbered and unfiltered awareness of one's own body and mind. I don't know how far I'll take it, but so far, the great "dull edge" challenge is promising. At the very least, we're saving a lot of money.

If it works out, I might have to see how a more hard-core approach works. I've already reduced my caffeine intake to half of what it was, and I may eliminate that entirely as well, because it really affects my biorhythms. Too much coffee makes me ready to take on the world one moment, and then a half-hour later, ready to take a nap.

I know Lisa would like me to do the vegetarian thing, and I'm pretty much a "meat reductionist" as it is. But I don't have a big problem with eating meat. After all, in the wild, most animals end their lives in the mouth of a predator. It's just that our societal standard is meat with every meal. Meat abuse, as it were. I kind of compromise with a meaty meal once a week or so, but I insist that it's free range, rather than raised in a cage in a factory someplace being pumped full of chemicals. We Americans just eat too much meat, and junky meat at that; in fact, we eat too much junky stuff, period.

Anyway, so far so good. I like that I've actually got energy throughout the day, and that I seem to have a bit more discipline about actually doing things rather than just think about doing them. Other benefits may become apparent as I go along. We'll see!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yup, October 3rd was another birthday for yours truly. I was hoping the Cubs would give me the gift of two...count 'em...two consecutive trips to the postseason. Too much to ask for. I guess that surviving 'til age 43 will have to do.

Lisa, knowing that I'm a huge weather geek (yes, it's true), gave me the gift of geekery: a handy-dandy weather station, complete with one of those windspeed...cup...twirly...thingies. You mount the sensor stuff outside, but the guts are inside, so you don't have to go OUT in the weather to see what's going ON with the weather. Haven't set it up yet but it looks like hours of weather-geek fun!

After the present-openin' interval, we went to see "Shaun of the Dead," the new zom-rom-com (zombie romantic comedy). What a great flick! I highly recommend it for those who enjoy British humour and can handle the occasional gore. Only one scene is truly other bloody scenes, the gore is played for laughs much like Monty Python. The bit when the two heroes are using record albums as weapons and trying to figure out which to throw and which to keep is priceless!

Finally, we went to the Moon & Sixpence, an English pub (just the ticket after watching a movie featuring much drinking in an English pub). Lisa wanted me to try the "Yorkshire fish cakes," which according to a well-informed Limey source consists of fish between two slices of potato, which is then deep fried. I wasn't in the mood that night, but must try it soon.

In non-birthday news, I finally finished my first short story and I'm preparing to send it off. Once I get things cleaned up enough around here to reach "easy maintenance level," I'm going to start on the next story. I haven't been writing as much as I'd like because I've been busy doing investment research to determine how to invest the settlement. Of course, the only thing that makes Lisa's eyes glaze over faster than sports talk is financial securities talk. But I'm pretty close to having that figured out.

D'oh! It's started raining here and my weather station isn't up yet! Ain't that just the way.