ArtLung: Joe Crawford Moorpark & Los Angeles, California, USA. Since 2001. April 2008

April, 2008: 40 posts.

Something from The Onion

Computers, Tron & Clifford Stoll

I’m not sure how many of you have fond memories of the movie Tron, but I do. I recall going with my uncle to some office to play “Adventure” — an early (1983) text adventure game. My uncle was friends with various folks in electronics manufacturing in the early 1980s in San Diego. So I remember one of the guys pointing out a computer — something running PDP-10 — they they said “was the computer they used to make Tron.” I was highly impressed. I think I thought it was the computer, but I think they meant that it was running the same software as the creators had used. The Tron wikipedia page indicates that the machine they used was the Super Foonly F-1.

I had used computers already. In Grade 8 at School of the Madeleine in San Diego we had an Apple II Plus. I think mostly we were allowed to play Oregon Trail as a reward for finishing something early. This is indeed how I know what it means when someone has a t-shirt that says “You have died of dysentery.” I also remember writing the most basic of Apple Basic programs. GOTO and PRINT and maybe some basic LOOPS and IFs. Nothing I remember terribly well.

It was also in about 8th grade that (thanks mom and dad!) my parents bought me a TI-99/4A computer, which I loved and was I wrote about ten years ago. I had a lot of fun with that machine and it was when I first started programming.

I even drew that machine for a drawing class in 9th grade. It’s a study in perspective, but really, the subject is that computer. All the details are devoted to the computer. I could care less about the rest of the room:

Perspective Study My Room, 1983

Back to Tron, On Drawn! Cartooning and Illustration Blog I saw an excellent stop-motion animated short film of a short sequence from Tron. It’s super!

Link: Tron by freres-hueon

Aside: Super Foonly F-1 is the coolest computer name I can think of.

So here’s how funny memory is. I titled this post before I started writing it. In my memory Clifford Stoll is linked tightly to my early experiences with computers. I imagine myself having read his exciting book The Cuckoo’s Egg when I was perhaps 15 years old. In truth, the book did not come out until 1990, so I was twenty. Funny, memory. Stoll was and is a hero of mine. It was his writing about telnetting from machine to machine that I really understood how the internet worked. Granted, I had had experience going on BBSes when I was 15 on my Amiga, and that helped. But Stoll was adept at describing this nowhere space — of having accounts on different systems, and of pretending to be other users — it was every vivid in my mind. Of course, I had Gibson‘s “matrix” in my mind too, but that was fictional and quite fanciful, and clearly impossible with the tools we had at that time (1984, when I read Neuromancer).

I was delighted to see this video: Clifford Stoll: 18 minutes with an agile mind show up in my podcasts:

I remember Clifford Stoll appearing on some PBS show in the early 1990s and he would not sit down and sit still. Unless I’m making this up, he sat in the chair by not sitting — he was crouching, feet on the seat, on the chair. I disagree with most of his thoughts about computers and kids, but I’m also aware he’s a wise man with smarts like crazy.

As with all my childhood heroes who are still alive, he has a home page. I dig the simplicity and the priorities that shows.

That’s a piece of my story of being inspired to use computers. What’s your story?

Twenty Year Anniversary

I don’t care for April Fool’s Day, but the opportunity to think about mistakes is a nice one. Five years ago, in No Fooling., I wrote:

15 years ago I learned something critical and important about myself. It’s beyond the scope of this blog to talk specifics, but let’s simply say that I made some grievous mistakes in my youth, for which I have atoned. I will never forget these lessons, and the people who have helped me be a better person over the years.

Now it’s twenty years. I’m staying cryptic about what the anniversary is about, perhaps someday I can find the words and be as vivid as I want to be, but for now know that 18 year old kids make horrible mistakes. I hope I’m able to apply the empathy I feel for my 18 year old self to my stepkids. I think I can, I think I do, maybe. It’s a process.

Also five years ago, I wrote:

Probably none of this makes sense, but that’s fine. I’m thinking too much about my audience for this blog and not about what matters. What matters is that this is a space for me to bleed on the page. A place for me to work stuff out.

Things are pretty good. It’s a big month though. BIG month. BIG Moving. BIG Tax Bill. BIG Wedding of my Sister. The days are packed.


Ebert will be reviewing again

In the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert announces his return to reviewing movies:

Are you as bored with my health as I am? I underwent a third surgery in January, this one in Houston, and once again there were complications. I am sorry to say that my ability to speak was not restored. That would require another surgery.

But I still have all my other abilities, including the love of viewing movies and writing about them. And at my side I have my angelic wife, Chaz.

via NewsGang.

My thoughts:

I’ve been a big fan of Roger Ebert for a while, all the more so after I heard him speak at The Virginia Festival of American Film (now called The Virginia Film Festival) in the early 1990s — he was doing live DVD commentary before there were DVDs — they were called “Shot by Shots” and cost extra and I got those tickets each of the two times I went to the fest. The first one was of Citizen Kane. It was riveting to hear the man speak with with knowledge and wit as the movie played, and answering impromptu questions from the audience on all manner of topics. Being a teacher, he was a natural. The second time I went he presented on Sunset Boulevard. I was a fellow with a notion to move out to Los Angeles to “do something with movies” and it was very inspirational.

A book of compiled Ebert compiled movie reviews accompanied Golden Movie Retriever on my bookshelf, often taken down, referenced to learn more about movies, cross reference movies and actors. In the days before IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes it was invaluable for a movie fan to get access to criticism and data about film.

Time has passed, and Ebert has taken ill. He’s managed to write about this topic with candor and humor. It’s really wonderful to get a dose of his voice — his literary point-of-view is one I think is worth striving for. I look forward to reading more of it.

Like Lee Perry, I’m Very On

“First, he balances drum and bass, to get a basic rhythm”

Ah yes indeed it’s fun times. Video link via Positive Ape Express.

Hah! Wikipedia claims Lee Perry‘s birthday is March 20th, like me!!! I didn’t know that. If I did, I certainly forgot it.

I’ll have to add that to my already proud list of people I share a birthday with: Mr. Rogers and Spike Lee.

Ode To Thursday

Who am I kidding? I don’t want to write an ode. It’s six in the mornin’.

Starting early. Having lunch with a good pal I’ve not seen in a few years. This could be fun.

Swam yesterday, TWICE. Even shared a lane swimming laps. It was fine.

I swam every day in the past 7 days for at 30 minutes or more. Malibu, Calabasas, Camarillo, depending on the timing and day. I’m thus continuously sore.

What’s that they say? Pain is weakness leaving the body. I think that might be true.

I used to hate it when a wise instructor of mine, Mr. Paul Lemons, M.A., would say that “no learning is possible without pain.” I rejected this out of hand. With every year that passes — 18 years have passed now — I understand the truth in his statement. I think he was paraphrasing Camus, but still.

Speaking of pain, Leah has a root canal today. Wish her well, won’t you? It’s gonna be great for her!

Not sure I will swim today, but then, I thought that day before yesterday, too.

Also, the moving process has begun. I hate it. My wallet is suddenly very thin from delivering deposit money. It’s all rather tight, considering TAX DEADLINE looming in the distance. But it’ll all get done. That’s how we do.

Have a good day, you. And as I used to say much more often, and am saying again more regularly — ONWARD.

Oh That Yahweh!

Oh That Yaweh!

Sinfest remains a favorite for me. By turns smart, ribald, dirty, funny, sexy, thoughtful, deep — it’s exactly what an online comic should be.

Multiple Roles in Movies

The other day at lunch my workmates and I spent an inordinate amount of time discussing people who played multiple roles in the same film. The major one I thought of was Peter Sellers — and Eddie Murphy is practically the canonical example from Coming to America. It vexed me that I could not think of very many off the top of my head, but it was sort of a pleasant kind of ignorance riffling through my mental rollodex, even if it came up empty.

As predicted, there turned out to be an extensive Wikipedia page dedicated to this topic: List of actors who have played multiple roles in the same film.

I suspect it’s incomplete, and if I come up with more entries you betcha I’ll be adding to that page. Perhaps you can think of some?

The Underwater Boy

Tuesday morning on the way to Camarillo I was stuck in some traffic:

Traffic in Somis on the way to pool.

Yesterday morning I went into work early, via PCH, and the overcast was sort of pretty:

Santa Monica

And this is what I look like after a swim:

Post-water tired

I think of swimming laps as a bit like methadone. I’m looking forward to the heroin of the ocean to be available.

There are much worse vices than swimming. I know because I’ve tried them.

Moving Day

In about an hour, we go pick up the truck from U-Haul, then we start the incredibly fun process of actually moving. For everything we own, probably 75% is ready to be put in a truck and moved. The rest not quite yet. But we do have all weekend. Getting the truck for two days, unless we can pull it off in one day. We’ll see how that shakes out.

I am not looking forward to today, but I don’t think it’ll be a bad day. I hope it does not rain as it did Thursday night. Rain is no fun for a moving day.

I’ll have to disconnect everything, and I’m not sure when we’ll be all reconnected next. Time will tell.

I may be posting photos to my flickr stream, and I might be twittering, but don’t count on it.

Holy cow, onward.

Yes, we’re moved.

Mostly, and tired. And achy. Leah’s back, my knee. But we’re getting there man. We’re getting there. 95% done. Kids did phenomenal work. Leah did incredible packing. Big ups to all.

That’s it this morning. More content, possibly, tomorrow.

(wearily) Onward (/wearily)

Okay, one more post today.

But only because I’m narcissistic:

Photo of me and Erin’s cat Frida from I believe 1990 (though possibly 1989, but I doubt it):

Joe and Taz, circa 1989, 1990

Thankfully, my mustache phase did not last too long. I suppose every man has to try it out for a while.

Thanks Erin for posting that!

The craziest part of the photo, as I think of it, is not that I have a caterpillar on my lip, but that Frida actually seems happy to be snuggling with me for a minute. She’s now, er… reluctant to be friendly with me, or anyone but Ewon!

Update: Actually, that photo is of Taz, a different cat, not Frida.

Recruiter Etiquette, Or Lack Thereof

Recruiters who track me down to office phone at my dayjob = INSTANTLY BLACKLISTED FOREVER.

Don’t abuse company directories. The fact that that number does not appear anywhere on any resume I’ve ever posted, anywhere on the web, for the ten years I’ve been posting resumes to the web and to online job search services, might be the giveaway.

Rude idiots.

Hilarious Outrage

Tony Pierce pointed to some writing in his post our biggest story on la times blogs about how “right wing” bloggers were in a tizzy about this ad:

In An Absolut World

I read a few, just a few, and chuckled.

We in California live in former Mexican territory. And this ad plays on some of the history with a bit ot humor and the Mexican equivalent of “political incorrectness” — it’s silly to get outraged about an ad directed at Mexican vodka drinkers.

I did chuckle though. More ads should include maps! Maybe we Americans in particular might learn some history and geography! visualization of “artlung”

A unique visualization of my twitter posts from – basically parsing by unique word, discarding “stop words” as described here. See it below. artlung

I like how replies to leahpeah appear: large and important and central.  My first “tweet” – a post to twitter of 140 characters or less – was on October 12, 2006. I don’t think I knew what to do with it but I didn’t give up on it. I post to twitter pretty regularly now.

The link to the visualization is here, and I have archived it here.

Water is a Balm for my Self

I’ve been pondering how it is that I can get a mania for swimming when any daily exercise routine I’ve adopted has fallen by the wayside. But I have no trouble getting in the water to swim.

Last week I asked my friend Chris, who I’ve now known for 22 years, if it makes sense that I would have a desire to swim or go to the beach — like “is it consistent with my teenage self that I would obsess like this” — I think I was expecting something like “well you liked the water then, but it was never crazy per se.” He surprised me with something I apparently said when I was living with him and his wife, which was “I haven’t been to the beach in 4 days, I’m getting cranky.”

Friends are great for time capsules like that. I didn’t remember saying that, but moreover, I don’t remember feeling that in such a way that I’d be able to verbalize it. I’ve been adept at ignoring my feelings and wants over the course of my life, channeling those things into less positive obsessions, notably food.

So the current mania for swimming I have is a neat surprise, and one much with much more positive health effects. Though having my vision be blurry for whole days because I was refusing to swim underwater without goggles in chlorinated pools was probably not the best thing.


On the days I commute into L.A. and take the coastal route I get a charge, every time, from seeing the Pacific Ocean. There’s something huge and wonderful and horrible and beautiful about the expanse of the ocean. In many ways the scale of the sea is imponderable, like trying to imagine the distance to Saturn, or the National Deficit — I don’t have a sense of scale when directly confronted with it.

This gets me pondering the notion of something like baptism, and how it taps into a psyche like mine. I think of the fact that I am a godparent to Chris’ son. What does it mean to cleanse by water? What do I believe about what is happening in a religious ritual like baptism, whether by sprinkling, pouting, or immersion? If you want more information about the uses of water in religious practice, check the wikipedia article on baptism. It’s actually quite amazing.

One particular example: early in my relationship with Leah, I attended Tony’s Mormon baptism, which was quite fascinating. I found the outfits — white jumpsuits — somewhat silly, and the age of baptism unique, but the ceremony was quite reverent and lovely, with the whole family taking part. I enjoy the symbolic nature of such events.

The varieties of religious belief and practice and are sort of daunting, perhaps as daunting as the varieties of the appearance and attitude of the Pacific.

As I walked a spiritual path from Catholicism, to agnosticism, to atheism, and back, I felt a great many things. At times I was moved deeply by stirrings and notions whose nature I do not necessarily understand. The correlation I am hamhandedly making in this writing this morning is something about the awe one feels for a deity, or for a large and scientifically unmeasurable quantity — what is the sum total of love? how grand is the Pacific Ocean? what is the basis for faith or art or trust? To make a long rambling story short, I get sustenance from the water – from seeing the ocean, and from swimming — sustenance whose character I am perhaps only beginning to understand.


Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains,
and waters as waters.
When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point
where I saw that mountains are not mountains,
and waters are not waters.
But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest.
For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains,
and waters once again as waters.

– Ching-yuan

Have a good day.

Hypoxic Training?

So yesterday I worked a short day, then Leah and I did errands, including more last-phase moving from the old house. At the end of the day, Leah went to a blogger meetup thing in Calabasas, and while she was there I went to the great public pool near there.

I swam for longer than usual. Usually when I hit the pool it’s early in the morning and I’ll need to get back so I can start telecommuting. Or it’s at lunchtime and I need to get back to working. Or I’m on my way home after a long day and I’ve decided it’s going to be a solid 30, 35 or 40 minutes then I have to leave because the pool will be closing anyway.

But the hour and change was perfect. I did the same swimming regimen as usual.

Now, regimen is not accurate, really. I do laps with a mix of front crawls, breaststroke, backstroke, with more emphasis on my arms (my strength) and then my legs (my weakness), and occasionally I swim underwater exclusively, as though I were snorkeling, and probably once a session I try the butterfly, but I’m not very good at it. This is not a structured workout, really. It’s more like, “do whatever I want in the water. Perhaps I’m imagining what kind of swimming I would be doing if I had to swim to shore after a shipwreck: perhaps evade sharks (faster swimming); forage for food (underwater); hail a passing rescue helicopter (backstroke). No, I did not think about this, really; I’m retroactively trying to explain my creativity at swimming laps. Like exercise machines, I can’t look at lap swimming as drudgery. I have to turn the repetitions into unique experiences or I get caught up in how similar the experience is to a hamster on a wheel.

So one of the things I’ve been curious about is other pools, what other pool sizes are out there. I heard that the Ventura pool is quite large. The day before yesterday I was looking at website for it and I noted something interesting. It says in their rules: No excessive breath holding or hypoxic training.


So I wondered if I have maybe been doing this. If inadvertently. I hold my breath during some laps. It’s excellent practice for being out in the big waves. Sometimes a big wave will carry you down and hold you there for a little while, and like military training, I want to be prepared mentally and physically for this dangerous experience. Last year I noted that I like the implications of forceful, big waves:

It takes a great amount of force to move a man who weighs 24 stone. And I love that the waves can do that. Frankly, I enjoy it when the water is so strong I’m forced under for a time. I like being batted around. That means there’s real force happening. More force makes better rides. If I stop to think about the thousands of pounds of water that allow me to move at great speed I might get intimidated. Actually, I do think about it, and there’s a healthy respect that one might call fear. When I do too much I take a break.

So am I engaging in “hypoxic training” or “excessive breath holding?” I think I am, to some extent, but I’m dubious that it’s making me ready to, say, go to Everest. This critical article Taking the Hype Out of Hypoxic has some criticisms and a bit of praise for what it can and can’t do for you. I do it to challenge myself more than anything. And if my heart starts to feel like it’ll explode or I get tingling in my fingers, or I feel like I might pass out, I stop and breathe. This abstract from the Journal of Applied Physiology: “Effect of high-intensity hypoxic training on sea-level swimming performances:” indicates that truly low oxygen/hypoxic training (less than the normal percentage of oxygen in the air) — they used 15.3% O2 instead of 20.9% — well, it had no effect other than what the normal effects of 5 weeks of training would be.

Of course, I’m sure that the Ventura pool would turn away anyone who came in with exotic breathing apparati to swim, so they’re right out.

I’m going to go with common sense here and think that they simply don’t want people to hold their breath too much. But I am interested to hear what prompted the rule.

Over the past weeks I have seen my own ability to get across a pool without taking a breath improve, for a variety of reasons. I’m faster, my breath control is better, and my endurance is better. I’d be interested to see physiologically what’s happening with me as I engage in more swimming. It’s possible I’ve lost weight, but given that the scale is somewhere in a box I don’t really know. I’ve not kept track of my weight regardless. And in my mind, it’s not the point — I like to swim and I like the psychological, physical, and spiritual effects that come with that.

Or maybe I just dig chlorine.

“Hi, I’m Joe”

Four days in a row swimming. Previous days-in-a-row maximum for daily lap-swimming: seven.

Day before yesterday I swam for longer, arrived early, and it was quite busy. There was a group of special needs kids doing laps. I waited patiently for an opening as all the other lanes were doubled. I had been nervous about lane-sharing since I had read so much stern etiquette about it, and it had been hard for me to see how two people swimming could avoid each other in a lane.

Anyway, I waited patiently and one young man with Down’s Syndrome and big goggles was walking past me as I wanted on the stairs. He was no more than 16 or 18 years old. He stopped a moment and said “Hi I’m Michael” and extended his hand to shake mine. I immediately took his hand and said “Hi I’m Joe.”

It was unusual inasmuch as I have seen swimming as a solitary event for me. I prize the time to erase the entire world and be immersed in the water and in listening to my malformed body. I listen to my legs scream at me when I kick hard, feeling my own mass fight with me as I glide and stutter through the water.

But the sociable handshake was nice moment. He was utterly guileless and when we were done shaking hands he moved on. Soon enough I was lane-sharing with another of the kids, who was being cheered on to “kick Kai, kick!” and not just, as my mother might say, dilly-dally in the water.

And then I swam. Soon enough Kai was done, and I was alone in the lane.

I wanted there to be a point to this post, some lesson. Whoops. There is none.

Have a good day!

Lyrics of the Day: Heidegger in Harlem

(by The Negro Problem, from Post-Minstrel Syndrome)

Heidegger in harlem
on a sunday afternoon
black paint streaming down his face
he’s trying to equalize
the distortion in his room
people screaming “unify your race”

but see it takes so long la da da
long i have heard, Martin
i want to thank you for pushing my cart along

there’s a soap box burning
there’s a preacher in the street
black, left, Christian on the way
the preacher’s saying Jesus danced to Communist beats
remember how he spread the fish and bread around that day
but it took too long la da da
long i have heard, preacher
i want to thank you for pushing my cart along

see, Heidegger collapses in a soul food restaurant
the sisters bring him cool lemonade
one of ’em reads aloud from a notebook by the plate
it says “i think this poor white boy’s about to fade”

see it takes too long la da da
long i have heard, preacher
i want to thank you for pushing my cart along

now the preacher’s wearing boxing gloves
the crowd is with him now
he’s punching out the demons of the state
even Malcolm smiles adjusts his tie in the book store window
he says “take me home now, preacher, i can’t wait”

history clock
don’t make no tick-tock
it won’t tell the time
so which watch should be mine?
it won’t plant the seeds
which whisper through the trees
and sway on the song
that pushes my cart along

Beach Time, Not Quite

It was warm yesterday. I went to the beach late in the day but the water is 56 degrees F. The lifeguard says it doesn’t get into the 60s until June. I now know 56 is too cold for me now, my calves were instantly numb, and not in a good way. Hypothermia is not how I want to start out ocean-swimming.

I have investigated the wetsuit angle and it’s not for me. Too expensive, too restrictive. Perhaps that’ll change at some point.

I did see that they put stones, probably anti-erosion? On my beach Thornhill Broome. I really didn’t like the way it was breaking on the stones there. I’m not sure who I would ask about why and when the stones were placed. California Coastal Commission? State Parks? It is part of Point Mugu State Park. I’ve no idea who has ultimate jurisdiction and responsibility to add those rocks. It seems to me that someone put several tons of rocks on that beach, and the fact that I can’t find a public record of it is vexing. I’m sure it’s simply due to my ignorance of where to check.

They put stones on my beach!

So I went further south and just as I crossed the L.A. county line I saw a mess of kiteboarders:

Kiteboarders just south of la county line

I went further south, past Leo Carillo further south and went in near Guernsey Avenue. The lifeguard kid I talked to was affable and jokey. I was encouraged to see a chalkboard with the conditions. The 56 didn’t scare me off till I felt it.

There were a few dozen people dotting the landscape. Mostly people sunbathing or just chilling. A lot of people were taking photos of the impending sunset, hoping for a postcard shot, no doubt. After a bit of walking in the surf I went home.

Barnett and Kunstler on Obama’s Impolitic Words

Two iconoclastic thinkers who I think would usually disagree (Barnett is an optimist/realist; Kunstler is nearly apocalypticist) are in complete agreement! This is a nice surprise.

James Kunstler (foul language, sorry):

Barack Obama caught hell last week for daring to tell the truth about the ragged thing that the American spirit has become. He said that small-town Pennsylvania voters, bitter over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” to work out their negative emotions. He might have added that the Pope wears a funny hat (see for yourself this week), and that bears shit in the woods (something rural Pennsylvanians probably know). Nevertheless, in the manner lately prescribed for those who slip up and speak truthfully in public (and in contradiction to the reigning delusions), Obama was pressured to apologize for his statements.

The evermore loathsome and odious Hillary Clinton, co-owner of a $100 million personal wealth portfolio, seized the moment to remind voters what a normal, everyday gal she is — who would never look down on the small-town folk of Pennsylvania the way her “elitist” opponent had — forgetting, apparently, that the Clinton family’s consigliere, James Carville, famously described the Keystone State as a kind of redneck sandwich with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as the bread, and Alabama as the lunch meat in between.

Thomas PM Barnett:

As soon as I think Obama’s pandering too much on economics, he says something this blunt and wise. Of course people get nasty and scared and cling to old shibboleths when they’re feeling vulnerable on economics! That’s the entire history of our country. Read Benjamin Friedman’s brilliant Moral Consequences of Economic Growth.

How either McCain or Clinton try to pass this off as “elitism” is just goofy. Obama’s problem is that he’s a lot more honest than either of them. He sees the world more accurately, and when he speaks truth in that direction, he gets chastised by the Boomers with their quintessential ideological view of things.

Breakdancing Kid on Mr. Rogers

Boøwy: Plastic Bomb

Boøwy was a Japanese rock group consisting of Kyosuke Himuro (vocals), Tomoyasu Hotei (guitar), Tsunematsu Matsui (bass) and Makoto Takahashi (drums). They were a rock band that reached legendary status in Japan during the 1980s. Their style of play varied from punk to pop rock and they had fans of all ages. The 1990s band movement was credited to Boøwy as they popularized the formation of musical groups, which caused musical instrument sales to hit an all-time high during the 90s and the record companies signed and debuted 80 bands during the 90s in hopes of finding a new Boøwy.

I had a dub (a recording onto cassette tape) of this band and “Plastic Bomb” was a favorite. Straight ahead rocking band, but you know, Japanese. This would have been around 1988 or so, and like many of my musical discoveries, I thank Erin for turning me on to this.

Here’s their official site. In Japanese, of course.

Tax Day Was Yesterday And Today I Am Not Dead

My day started yesterday with my aunt calling me at 7:30am and calling me a “goober.”

And it’s true, Leah and I, especially me, were not prepared for what we knew was coming in the way we needed to be. We had done some good work, but our move kept getting prioritized above doing the taxes and I didn’t get anything to my aunt to review until the evening of April 14th. So what I sent her, my return, exported as PDF, was what got her to call me that g-word.

But we buckled down and my rockstar aunt whipped us into shape. We spent the day going over everything with a fine tooth comb, guided by Joan’s excellent, stern, but kind hand. I took the day off and we did math and figuring and calendar checking and email searching. We utterly failed to get printers going, printed at Kinko’s and found the Post Office that would be open till 11:59pm — the close one was in beautiful Oxnard! — and got the whole works in the mail at 7pm on April 15th.

We celebrated with some Souplantation and then went home and collapsed in a heap.

We’re still owe 5 figures to the IRS, not where we want to be. But we have a big chunk coming back from our rental deposit on our last place and we have some other windfalls forthcoming soon. We’re making good progress and are on track, I think. Next year, things will be different.

If anyone wants a referral to an incredible tax person, particularly in San Diego, but Southern California really — I have just the aunt. She saved us $4000 dollars yesterday, easy. She also is a Certified Financial Planner and is plain sensible about money. I’m happy she’s on my side against the world. I’m incredibly grateful to her for going the extra mile for us yesterday.

And with a heavy sigh and deep relief, I say, ONWARD.

Iron Man… the cup!

Iron Man Slurpee Cup

I actually followed the Iron Man comic for a few years back in the mid-to-late 1980s, so I’m a fan. And it was a hot day, so I splurged on this collectible. A bit of fun, and the Slurpee was delicious.

Bible Reading of the Day; Mom

From my Mom — it’s Matthew 6:25-34.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This is a passage my mother memorized fifteen years ago to help her cope. I’ve mentioned my Mom and her illness before. It appears that the cancer — her Stage IV renal cell carcinoma — is a bit worse these days, particularly in her brain, where a recent CT scan indicates it has grown some. The whole family is looking to my sister’s wedding in a week and a half — it should be a wonderful event, and we all love my sister’s fiance very much.

With sadness I note the passing of David Foster on April 15, 2008. He blogged his experiences with Stage IV renal cell carcinoma. Very moving writing, often very funny.

Obviously we’re all wishing and hoping and praying that the treatments my mother gets will help. I am hopeful, and the bible verse my Mom sent is all about not worrying.

Adventures on the Work Phone Number



Recruiter: “Hi Joe, I’m [redacted] from [redacted] we specialize in Oracle and Java recruiting”

Me: “I don’t do either of those things here.”

Recruiter: “Ok, do you know who I should be talking to?”

Me: (WITH DISDAIN) “Nope.”

Recruiter: “Ok, thanks.”

Me: (click)

And, Scene.


Free Simi Valley E-Waste Collection

At the mall, today and tomorrow. I have two monitors I’m looking forward to getting rid of.

Simi Valley Town Center Press Releases

Simi Valley Town Center will again host an E-wast collection on Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19. The event will be from 9am to 3pm both days.

Residents and Businesses are invited to bring in their unwanted electronic waste for disposal and drop it off in the parking lot running parallel to Simi Town Center Way.

For further details, please call the Guest Services Department at 805-581-1430.

Kids, younger

Kids, older photo

Took this photo with my phone this morning at the old house. It’s of an old, faded photo in a dilapidated frame. This shot by Leah is from a bit before I knew them — I think.

They are so tiny! They’re now all between 13 and 19 years old and look quite different. Three of them drive. Yikes is probably an appropriate word to say at this point.

Incidentally, I discovered the other day that I’ve become a patriarch. A mild one, but a patriarch nonetheless. It’s not unwelcome, and I don’t know when it happened, but I’ll not turn back.


Welcome to Thunderdome!

Tyler is 15 now and has been playing competitive league basketball pretty much for 4 years I think. He’s been playing football even longer. He’s on the High School Freshman teams for both.

Anyway, yesterday I took Tyler out to his basketball games in Santa Barbara. It was a pretty good time overall. Ty reminds me somewhat of me at that age, but then I think all the kids end up reminding me of my best and worst qualities at that age. Tyler has great focus, which I had when I wanted to, about art or what interested me. Tyler loves sport, and being on a team, which I despised at that age, other than, perhaps, hanging out with my friend Chris or working on a mural.

So we drove out to Santa Barbara from Moorpark, and got there just in time. First game was against Sophomores and Juniors, and the boys got beat, but they played well and didn’t resort to any nasty play — the opposing team got I 3 fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct over the course of the game. After the game, one of the referees took the whole team aside and complimented them for not giving up, not laying down, and for “playing classy” — the team coach said this kind of a compliment is rare, and was proud of the performance the guys showed.

The facility they all played in is called the Thunderdome. The thing is shaped like a cross, and can have up to 6 games going at any one time. We were on court 1 for the first game. They fit that many games collapsing folding bleachers. The name always makes me chuckle, though the stadium was built before Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

UCSB thunderdome.

We had a bit over an hour between games and I decided to try out UCSB’s pool facilities. I hadn’t swum yet, and I gotta do that if I am able. It was real nice, though it took me a while to get there since I had to track down an ATM first. But I got about 30 minutes in of laps. Their pools were huge! When I was done, they even had one of those swimsuit-spinner things that dries out your suit. Lots of college kids working out, playing games, swimming and using their gym facilities.

>Moorpark versus Ventura

Tyler hung out with his team while I did that. I ran a little late, but luckily with the number of games going and the natural margin for error at tournaments, I was right on time for the game at 7 which started at 7:15.

Warming up for 7p.m. Game

Ty’s team was evenly matched for the second game. They were tied 17-17 at the halfway point — the games are played in two 20 minute periods. But the other team hustled real well in the second half and they got ahead by about 12 points. Moorpark started to close in them, but when the buzzer sounded we lost by 4. Disappointing loss for the boys. Of course they were tired from playing a game just two hours earlier, but so was the other team. There is another game today (Sunday).

On the way home we got sandwiches — I wanted to get some well-made fast food — a non chain take out burger joint, but we found a Subway and got footlongs. It was good stuff and we both ate hearty.

Like I wrote, Tyler is 15 now and has his driving permit, so he can drive. He didn’t ask to drive on the way there, but he asked on the way home. Saturday night on the 101 out of Santa Barbara didn’t sound like fun to me, so I offered him Oxnard to home, and he did fine. He’s sort of iffy on some of the transitions — he turns a bit too wide going left, but he listened to criticism and kept us safe. I never felt like we were out of control.

Next week on Saturday I’ll be attending my Sister’s wedding around Washington, D.C. I’m so excited for her. She and Daniel have been together for a long while, and we’re so happy for them both.

Today we have some last things to do at the old place, and another game for Tyler. I’m not sure where swimming fits in, but then I never do know. I’m on a four-streak (Taxes broke the last one). I guess I’ll see how it turns out. I’m not sure I have a specific goal in noting the streaks. I know very well that stuff happens to break the days-in-a-row swimming streaks. But there’s something important about this keeping track. Somewhat like this article about Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break The Chain” — here’s an article describing it: Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret:

Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Welcome to Thunderdome!

Weekend’s End

Weekend was great overall. Next weekend: my sister’s wedding! Very exciting.

Here’s Ty warming up with his team before the game yesterday:

Warming up

Yes, he is often just a blur.

They lost, but played well, and had great sportsmanship. They were playing up, and played very classy as the other team started to gloat. It’s hard in this culture to be a gracious winner, I think. I don’t think we have many examples of that. Everything is about “PWNED!!!111” Sad, I think.

The non-basketball highlight of the Santa Barbara trip, besides Tyler driving was going to Freebirds World Burrito for great burritos! They are a bit spendy — but it’s rather like a Subway for burritos and quesadillas – pick “Regular” or “Monster” size flour tortilla, then choose toppings — refried beans, rice, black beans, steak, broiled chicken, pork, guacamole, cheese, pico de gallo, onion, lettuce, sour cream, tomato — get one or five or whatever you want! I got a monster and could not finish it. Come to think of it, those leftovers are now breakfast! Ty, despite being almost entirely muscle, ate his whole “Monster.” The boy’s metabolism is amazing at 15. And more important than that, his activity level is through the roof.

Okay, time to get going on this week. Should be a fun one.

Poor Communications Skills

…about coffee.

via vintage ads

So Tired

So tired.

So this is me after a slightly longer swim than normal after skipping two days. I wore myself out. I twittered this too, but I’m not sure being immediately sore is the sign of a good workout, or poor form, or overexertion, or not enough warming up, or the gap between times swimming, or just that it was at the end of a day where I was already a little tired.

No matter, off to the pool again this morning!

Bicycling the 405


via tony pierce, via laist, via banned bikes.

As a sometime 405 commuter, I’m amazed at what the the *motorcycles* do, let alone what bikes could do.

I wonder what science fictional scenario gets the 405 freeway repurposed for bikes. Maybe $10/gas?

Update: Banned Bikes has an update post — Freeway Aftermath, which points to the thread on MetBlogs which has some historical background on bikes in L.A., among other things.

Flying Tomorrow

Feeling busy. Got to pack. Work too.

Feeling pretty good, all in all.

Not sure what to say beyond that. What else is there, anyway?

Back from D.C.

Great trip. My sister is married! So happy for her and Daniel. Here’s right as they were officially pronounced.

Kelly and Daniel Married!

Beautiful ceremony, great reception, much dancing.

Back home now, and taking the day off to recover.

Before and After Trip

Leahpeah and me, approximately before and after our trip:

So awake at six in the morning
At Dulles waiting to board.

Onward, y’all! And hey, what’s up with the hot weather out here? And when are the darn water temperatures going to rise to go with the air temperature rise?

Terrific Article: Microsoft/Yahoo

Excellent rundown of what the scenarios are for a Yahoo/Microsoft. I’m not as expert at understanding financial issues as some others, but I feel like this made me smarter — If Microsoft goes fully hostile on Yahoo by Marc Andreessen.

I often see job opportunities for working at Yahoo — contracting positions at various facilities in California — including some that would be realistic choices for me. These formerly excited me with their promise. I have to say the prospect of working for Microsoft has never excited me, while working at Yahoo has. I’m not sure if this is rational.

I will say that what I have experienced of employees of both companies at various events over the last ten years tell me Yahoos tend to be happier than Microsofties. But my sample size is not that large.

Leah has an essay in this

Picked it up today at lunch — Things I Learned About My Dad: Humorous and Heartfelt Essays. Edited by dooce. Congratulations Leah! Much more info and links to the other contributors over at Heather A’s blog.

Music Vids of the Day

Both covers. Both awesome.

Blitzkrieg Bop (about this song) by Gus and Fin (via BoingBoing):

Rock the Casbah (about this song) by Rachid Taha (via Neil Kramer):

Now that should start your day off right. It did mine. Off to the pool! And possibly Fry’s Electronics. Possibly.

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