Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama / McCain

(Editor: Going back through old unposted drafts. To hell with the consequences. I found this post from right around the elections. I don't know why I didn't post it, other than being concerned about the feeling of others. AHHH HAHAHA! Silly, naive Matt.)

Original Draft: 11/5/2008
McCain's concession speech was great. I derived personal satisfaction from it not only because he lost the race, but that he spent the last eight months solidly attacking Obama only to say, on the night of his loss, that he, "...had the honor of calling Senator Barrack Obama to congratulate him." Considering the vitriol of his ads, equating Obama with terrorism, pointing out how unqualified he is, and that he'll essentially climb into everyone's home, night by night, and eat their children, shouldn't he have spent his last few minutes of national attention ranting and foaming at the mouth that we're going to hell? If he actually believed the tripe he has been spewing (and we've all had to endure) these past several months, why didn't he remind us, one last time, that Obama once served on the same committee as Ari Flitcher or that he is an "elitist"? Was that all just politicking or did he really hold the same opinions as his attack ads?

In the end, who cares? He lost.

Epilogue (9 months later)
Turns out I was right. Big surprise there. Considering the things that he is still saying about every policy the current administration, I think the acceptance speech was the one and only time he ever said anything positive about Obama, other than as a back-handed compliment or when they both agree on the same issue.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ween - The Mollusk

Hot was the summer of '02. Especially the end of June, leading to the 4th of July weekend. A party hadn't been planned, they never really were. Chad and I had bought some meat at Meijer and some beer at the International Beer Store (or IBS, the same acronym as Irritable Bowel Syndrome... no coincidence). We had a geek-gathering planned for the next day. People would show up, hook their computers together, and stink. Beer would be drunk, music would be played, and Kleiner-1-Niner would kill us over and over. The night before, we thought, let's get set up for the party. Invite some people over, grill, and drink some beer.

Mandy showed up sometime late-afternoon. We had vacuumed and cleaned the empty pizza-boxes off the floor. This equates to the closest thing to cleaning we did, and we were damn proud of ourselves. So proud, in fact, we felt we deserved a beer. Sitting on the back porch, Djarum in one hand, a beer in the other, we looked out over Scum Lake and pondered the meaning of it all.

The 4th of July is the central point of the summer, the great climax and the greatest expression of pure summer-abandon. College was in full-swing. I was living with three other guys in a run-down house, working full time at a well paying job, and dating my future wife. Our pet cat Jabba hadn't grow sour on our collective insanity, and would still occasionally pop in and nibble on our scraps. These were the glory days. A time that seemed to last forever, yet, in retrospect, was only a period of about eighteen months. Life's possibilities rolled out before all of us, and we knew, simply knew, that we had to reach out an grab them. The first year anniversary of 9/11 still hadn't happened, and we were all reeling in the changes wracking the world around us. It was a time of change on every level, and in the center of that maelstrom of chaos, insanity, and fun sat a simple, unassuming house.


Say the name to anyone who lived through that period, and they will inevitably do two things: Smile and shake their heads. Next, they will say, "Remember when...?" And will tell the story of Tyler almost blew himself up with a roman candle, or the time we had 20+ people on the phenomenally dangerous deck rocking it back forth to see if they could get it collapse, or the time two here-unnamed people went across Scum Lake with arm-fulls of Class B fireworks, lightening them off in a mall parking lot until the entire neighborhood was crawling with cops.

So, in many ways, that weekend was much like any other. People, both invited and not, began to arrive as the air cooled slightly. Somehow the grill was lit, a half keg appeared at one point, and music began to play through any number of the sound systems that filled every corner of the house. I would be playing groove salad in my room, where the pot-heads would inevitably crash on the king-sized water bed. Dan would play a scratchy vinyl record he found at a flee market called "28 Truckin' Classics". Chad would burn crazy mix CDs and put them in the various boombox-style CD players throughout the house. All of this would blend with the various conversations, laughter, and occasional breaking of something expensive-sounding.

That night, through cacophony of noise, I heard a few small bits of music that caught my ear. Somehow I associated the music with this skinny dude wandering around talking to Chad and friends. I said hi and he eagerly responded, "Hey! How're you?" I think I wondered off. This happens often at parties. You meet people you're supposed to know, but due to the excitement or drinking or something, you can't place them.

Mandy and I woke the next morning on the downstairs couch. Dan, even taller than me, was crumpled up on love-seat completely covered by a blanket. The sliding door was wide open, and outside I could see Scum Lake sparkling. Today was the LAN party. All of our careful preparation from the day before had been laid to waste by the party held to celebrate the preparation.

Mandy and I went upstairs. Chad was making eggs and toast. He made us some and we sat on the deck discussing the night before.

"Who was that skinny guy last night? He looked really familiar." I asked.

Mandy said, "That was Andy. You've met him, like, ten times."

Chad, "Yeah. Andy. I've known him for years."

Me, "Andy?"

Chad/Mandy, "Sigh..."

"Ah, right. Andy."

Chad, "Did you hear the CD he brought? It's really good."

"I think so. I caught a little of it."

Chad, "There's this one song, it's an instrumental. Mid-way through, it sounds like you."

"Sounds like me?"

"Yeah. It sounds like you, groaning."

"Ahhh... what?"

"Here. Listen to the album."

I couldn't immediatly tell whether the band was suppossed to be humorous, dark, rock, or folk. I found myself laughing, kind of, and looking around to see if anyone was seeing me enjoy it. The experience was akin to listening to Zappa for the first time. You keep asking yourself, "Am I suppossed to be laughing at this?"

The key to Ween lies with the understanding that there isn't anything to get. The confusion, the humor, and strangeness is the point. Once I stopped trying to disect it and just listen and enjoy, I fell in love. A deep, musical love I've only felt with three or four bands. Experiencing Ween, obviously, is difficult to sum up in words. It's very challenging music, but the reward more than compensates for the effort.

If you haven't listened to Ween, or you've only heard the one or two singles that used to be played endlessly on MTV ('Push the Lil Dasies" or "Voodoo Lady") go out and buy / download The Mullusk and listen to it. Try not to figure it out. Turn off your brain and let them take you down the brown road, where mutilated lips, whales with pokadot tails, drunken Irishmen scream about cracking in your head. It's worth it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting it all done

(Editor's Note: This was written before Matt left on a two week business trip, so the day ranges, etc, are not accurate.)

Over the past few days, we have made incredible progress solving (and creating) little puzzles around the new homestead. Solving these little problems is the greatest emotional reward I have experienced as a humble homeowners thus far. The process combines thinking in new and exiting ways, listening to people who know more than you, and doing enough research to not solve yourself into a corner.

As part of their yearly Harley Davidson US circuit, Mandy's parents have come out for a two-week visit to rest and relax. Of course, by rest and relax, I mean working 8 - 10 hours per day helping us get our shit in order.

Over the past seven days, we have accomplished the following items (this list is not exhaustive):

1. Purchase and plants several flowers and grasses
2. Plan out the backyard patio, dog run, privacy and chain link fences
3. Extend sewer vent to roof
4. Clean gutters
5. Repair gutters
6. Replace or repair swamp cooler parts (descale interior, paint and seal basin and siding, install new media (evaporative stuffing), replace drive belt / axle / bearings, clean pump, install new filter basket
7. Paint clock face
8. Flatten flower bed
9. Lay new bricks for walkway
10. Repair lawn mower
11. Purchase "little giant" ladder system
12. Repair buckled bead board in basement and staircase
13. Install 4 in-ceiling speakers, 2 RCA breakout plates, 1 8-connector speaker cables breakout box
14. Install 3 new electrical plugs, three lighting fixtures, new circuit breaker in box
15. Install bathroom vent fan and ductwork
16. Repair shower swinging door water sweep
17. Hang curtains
18. Laid concrete (150sq/ft(
19. Built two gates, a privacy fence, and 30 foot chainlink fence
20. Poured in 4 tons of pea gravel
21. Built shelter for lawn mower, more bricking
22+. Many other items I am missing

Back in November, we put up two posts as a walk through of the home in it's viginal state. Now that we've sacked, razed, and rebuilt pretty much everything, we've created another quick walkthrough that shows some of the changes. Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

2008 - Top Ten

I finally finished my collection of the top ten songs created in 2008. It is almost the 4th quarter of 2009, I know, but I enjoy making finishing these collection for the same reason I occasionally update this blog: To act as a kind of diary. Placeholders are important when looking back on events passed. Without these bookmarks, the years (music, stories, events) blur and become something difficult to parse, and since there is no working form of grep for the mind, I'll have to use these blogging and audio mastering tools to help collect and organize my history.

I'm not going to distribute this collection, except to people who ask for it. The year is long over and everyone (myself included) has moved on to new music. I'm definitely going to try to get the 2009 collection done by the December holiday season, so I can I can send it out and help spread my own personal form of holiday cheer to friends and enemies alike.

For those are interested (but not interested enough to ask for a mix), here are the songs in no particular order.
(Artist | Album | Track)

TV on the Radio | Dear Science | Crying

Flight of the Conchords |[self-titled] | Think About It

Vampire Weekend |[self-titled] |M79

Beck | Modern Guilt | Walls

David Bryne & Brian Eno | Everything That Happens, Will Happen Today | Strange Overtones

Kanye West | 808s and Heartbreaks | Welcome to Heartbreak

The Black Keys | Attack & Release | Psychotic Girl

Gnarls Barkley | The Odd Couple | Who's Gonna Save My Soul?

Dodos | The Visiter | Red and Purple

Sigur Ros | Med Sud I... | Gobbledigook

Hot Chip | Made in the Dark | Ready for the Floor

(Ok... so there are 11 songs... it was a good year!)

Here's the introduction to the mix for your listening pleasure (no video).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A mile high

I am finally back in Denver after what seemed like the longest trip of my 2-year stint with Global. This install is overwhelmingly complex, making problems both fun to solve and mind-shatteringly annoying. At least the video chain isn't as complicated as some other installs (CAS), so it doesn't require a person starting over from the beginning with every single issue. I think the difference with this system, as opposed to the more common setups, is how wide the breadth of ad-ons are. There are so many different ways to use the system that we (and even the client) have no idea where to begin. This makes troubleshooting a bitch. A bitch with iron stiletto shoes trampling the balls of truth, or something.

The other unbelievably taxing aspect of this particular site is its being situated in central Texas. Next to an Army base. In August. To paraphrase Matt Daemon in "Syriana" describing the heat in the Arabian desert as akin to walking into a physical wall. It's an object you slam into. It is that hot. So, everywhere I walked, everyplace I entered, my body experienced the switch from 100+ (80% humidity) to dry, 70 degree A/C. If the heat is like running into a wall, the A/C was like having my lungs tore from my chest and dry-cleaned. The simple act of experiencing these temperature changes, really exhausted me. I felt perpetually out-of-sorts because of it.

Now that I am back in Denver (for a few days), I am really looking forward to coolish evenings and the simple joy of going to sleep before 2AM after working 14 hour shifts.

"I pay two hundred dollar for this!"

I am sea-sick sailor on a ship of noise, got my masts all backwards and my instincts poised, in a truth-blow gutter full of wasted years like blown-out speakers ringing in my ears... -Beck Hansen

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Facebook Status Arguments

What is the deal with getting in arguments about people's status messages on Facebook? I've chanced to see someone post, "Prez obama sucks!" receive thirty+ responses. These responses range from, "right on" to "I don't think you have considered all of the facts when making such an odious and ill-informed statement, sir." In either case, they are still responding to what amounts to a grammatically-terrifying drunken shout in a bar. I don't think it these statements (if one can be so generous to call them that) need to be debated, because there is nothing inherently debatable about them.

It seems, at first glance, there would be better forums for this type of rancorous debate, but maybe not. I think what confuses me most about the debates, or "firestorms" these statements evoke is how people, who one would assume know each other (it is Facebook, after all) can seemingly get away with the things they say that would normally require a good boot to the head if said in the real world.

People have often argued the reason people are such assholes online, and not in physical interactions with other humans is due to the perceived sense of anonymity. This kind of reasoning isn't without flaws (IE if people think they are in any way anonymous online, not only are they naive, but a good case could be made that they must suffer from some form of brain damage) but the whole idea of Facebook is to remove anonymity. The goal is to let people know who you are so they can seek you out and communicate directly with you. So, how do they get away with calling their wives a bitch or blatently disrespecting friends and family without any consideration of the consequences? It's a strange phenomenon.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Head

(What have you done with her body?!?)