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

June, 2008: 22 posts.

The Misc on the Bus Goes Round and Round

I had gotten in the habit of blogging every weekday for the last few weeks, but broke that streak by not blogging on Friday or subsequently, until this lovely Sunday morning. So, yes.

What is to say, exactly? The answer is that there are quite a few random datapoints I could mention. Here are a few:

Kill Ugly Radio, a blog I’ve mentioned before, linked to this 1980 performance by Frank Zappa in Albuquerque of Harder than your Husband and Bamboozled by Love. A very interesting find, and I love hearing Ike Willis singing, regardless. The addition of Jimmy Carl Black (“The Indian of the Group“) is particularly fun on Husband.

Last week I served my jury duty service in Ventura County, and when I say “served” what I mean is that after 5pm each day, I called to see if my number was being called. I was in group 047. Last week was a short week owing to Memorial Day, so it was a four day week. I liked those odds, so rather than claiming financial hardship, like I have every other time in my life I’ve been called, I agreed to take a shot at it. For Tuesday, Group 001 was called. I thought, hey, this is auspicious. That’s a long way from 047! For Wednesday, it was 002 to 012. That was an elevenfold jump in the number of groups. Thursday was 013 to 037. That more than doubled the number of groups. I was really expecting to serve on Friday, losing a day of work, but also getting a valuable chance to carry out my civic duty, but when I called on Thursday night the groups called were 038 to 046. Yes, that’s right, I was saved from jury duty last week by a counter that seemed to echo a million bad film and tv shows featuring countdown timers. With only 1 digit left, the red wire was cut, and the heroes and the Earth were saved. I’ll take it.

WiiWare has been fun. Leah mentioned Super Mario Bros. And this weekend we’ve added Galaga and StarFox 64 to our roster of classic games. Tony was really intent on StarFox and digs it. I’m not very good at it, and in two-player versus mode I spend all my time evading Tony and not quite getting into position to shoot him. It was fun watching the boys play Super Mario though, but even more fun watching Mom play. They seemed mystified by the fact that this Mom-creature totally pwns this game, and is far better at it than them. It makes me chuckle every time. The thing that especially gets me about the game when I think about it is that Leah and her ex bought that game system for their one year old. They might as well have gotten their one year old a trampoline or a bike! Dev did eventually play it, but the innocent self-deception makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. 19 year old parents are funny! I mean, in retrospect, and along with laughing at them I am totally respecting their commitment to raising a child when they were barely adults themselves.

But yeah, funny. I’m actually chuckling again, as I think about it.

The Passing Strange Soundtrack did indeed come out, and it is awesome and moving and yes, I laughed, I cried, it was much better than Cats.

Swimming was good this week, though Friday I got a little freaked out by a largish woman who does things to kickboards. The first thing she does when not swimming is take a kickboard in one hand and slamming it loudly, bellyflopping it, first to her right, then to her left, and back, this is while standing in the shallow end. THWACK! right side. THWACK! left side. And again and again. It sounds like torpedoes being deployed from a patrol boat (perhaps the famous PT-109, which I once did a model of when I was a kid). This is disruptive, but I can ignore it. The other thing she does, much less ignorable, is take four kickboards and smash them down into the water, holding them there for half a second, then pulling them up, then pushing them violently back in the water. Maybe this is some upper body exercise? All I know is that the effect looks and sounds like she’s violently trying to drown someone who is struggling against her, and she is having none of it. DIE, KICKBOARDS, DIE!!! is what I imagine she’s saying to herself. Friday was especially odd because as I was exiting the pool, she asked me “sir do you want a kickboard oh sorry.” All one breath like that, but she only decided to ask me as I was climbing the ladder to get out. NO I DO NOT WANT A KICKBOARD! was in my head but what came out was “No thank you.” Her exercise routine freaks me out.

Gas prices are a factor in everything these days, but unexpectedly, both our driving kids cited it as a reason to avoid the 4.5 mile drive to our house. We’re going to micro-subsidize this cost for Alex by a few dollars a month. I do want her to figure out what her gas mileage is though. It seems she puts in gas the same way I did, which is like five thimble-fulls at a time. Once while still in high school I believe I put in 75 cents of gas. This was at the AM/PM mini mart in Point Loma at the corner of Lytton and Rosecrans. I believe at the time that amount of money bought a little under a gallon. And actually, I think I made Chris get out and actually pay that night. I’m pretty sure he found it at least as pathetic as me. I think I made him go pay because I was too embarrassed.

Hacky sack! I’ve been carrying around this hacky sack (actually, a Sipa Sipa) for 18 years but have not gotten it out to try and kick it around for a long while. With my swimming I’ve gotten some better flexbility and wanted to try it out. I managed to cajole the boys into trying it out with me. The first time I tried this with them was five years ago, when the boys were 10 and 8. They’re much better coordinated now. It did develop a tear in the past decades but Leah fixed that for me. Thanks lp!

I blogged about my Mom this week, and she did indeed have a bad week. But things are looking up and there’s a plan to restart chemo at a gentler dose, and she’s feeling better overall. Love and prayers go out to her and her health. Sometimes it’s really hard to live far away from my folks.

I guess that’s it for now. Next week Leah will be going out of town, so that’ll be different. I expect she’ll be blogging about that as the time comes for that. I expect to be busy as well, with some new deadlines on a project at work and a long dormant project coming back to life, too.

Big Week

Yesterday was great. We’re a part time big family. 11 for dinner, one of whom was a girlfriend, one of whom was a friend. Leah did amazing job with the meal, and our houseguests provided a smashing success of a dessert. Well, I say houseguests but I mean Heather. Incredible cook, she is.

Anyhoo, no other updates, still behind on somethings, and possibly ahead on others. Read the last few posts if you missed them, some are pretty good.

Your suburban moment of the day:

Suburbia. Waits.

Swimmer’s Ear & Colombia

So I’ve been swimming regularly and since I’ve not swum (is that right right conjugation?) this much since I was a teenager, I suppose it follows that I might come down with the Swimmer’s Ear that was a hallmark of my summers as a teen.

I knew something was wrong Saturday as I was having a little pain in my jaw. I assumed this was a developing toothache, but on Sunday it became clear that the origin was not in the teeth in my jaw, but in my right ear. The pain is referred downward and makes chewing or talking uncomfortable.

Now, the typical treatment I got as a kid was some otic drops and maybe an antibiotic. After all, the inflammation of Swimmer’s Ear is just some bacteria who hitched a ride into my ear from some water that got in there. Here’s a Mayo Clinic article on treatment.

My ear infections got so frequent as a kid I devised my own treatment, vinegar in my ear. It’s silly, and I end up smelling a bit like a salad, but in my experience it works. That Mayo Clinic article states not to swim, and I’m considering stopping swimming for a while. Yesterday I cut my swim short after work because the discomfort was too great. As a teen Swimmer’s Ear didn’t slow me down much except the first time, when I think my Dad warned me that if allowed to go unchecked, the infection could cause real damage: I could develop pus, hearing loss or worse — it could end up killing my ear and the surrounding tissue. When my Dad said things like that I always imagined a melon-baller scooping out a piece of me and what that might look like. Grisley stuff.

I’m going to stick with my vinegar and motrin regimen. If I see no improvement I’ll see a doctor. But on my homemade remedy, if I remember right, I should have significant results in 24-48 hours. I think what I need to do is prep with some ibuprofen before hitting the pool, and have vinegar with me post-swim to irrigate my ear.

In other news, Leah is going out of town this week, she leaves today for Colombia. I wish her well but she’ll be back Sunday, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Two of our houseguests are also on a trip, so for the week it’ll be me and my brother-in-law. I expect we won’t get into too much trouble. We both have plenty to do.


Late Night

Leah did leave last night for Colombia. I’m glad we said our goodbyes yesterday morning rather than having dinner at LAX, since it didn’t work out to connect before her 9pm flight.

But I did work a little late last night. Nice night, but chilly. I think I needed a sweater last night.

I tried to hit the newsstand in Hollywood last night, but once again it’s far too busy, so I went home. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try and hit it sometime in the middle of the night or good and early in the morning sometime.

Earache still present, maybe milder, but still present. Still irrigating.

She’s arrived safely as of 5:30am today, and napping now. I’m sure she’ll have a great time. This morning I did some dishes and need to put out some donations for ARC before 8am. I’m looking forward to getting some garage space back.

Here are two photos I took last night. They’re sort of evocative, if not in focus.

Leaving late

Oh, the incredible miscellany of it all; Who I’m reading these days

Yesterday I saw the new Indiana Jones movie with Jukebox JT and his wife, and the seeing and the talking after was fun, but the movie is not, uh, good. But I don’t want to talk about that. I’ve got a backlog of stuff to mention. Ready? Go!

I used to work with Electromute, I thought of myself as older and wiser — very big-brotherly, then my life imploded and we were just friends. But this post she recently blogged (after not blogging, like, ever) makes me feel proud of her in that familiar big bro way.

Leah is still in Colombia and has no flickr access and spotty internet, but still managed to post some photos and words. Awesome! Miss her a lot but hope she’s having a great time.

Undercover Black Man has blogged a third time about the UK band Black Kids and it’s about time I posted the video: I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend I like from them. I just sent it to my pal Erin with the subject “Like the Cure with a better sense of humor, also cuter”:

I kid. I still like the Cure pretty well.

John Scalzi‘s take on the current election cycle is enjoyable.

Oh, and I’m happy that Obama is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. VERY happy.

Paul Kedrosky is a financial guy who I enjoy reading — he posted a video of a TV piece that featured talking about the 2-for-1 housing deal.

Nick Mamatas continues to make me laugh — this one Some some some I some I murder some I some I let go — I’ve read it several times, and showed it to Leah. Becuase sometimes, it’s not about the art, it’s about getting paid. Actually, it reminded me of this post: An Amusing Bit of Unnecessary Encouragement from Scalzi.

Speaking of money, it’s been two weeks since I’ve gotten a paycheck. The dayjob is so funny. They seem not to manage transitions very well. They get very predictable in when the checks get cut (I invoice weekly), then they’re simply not. Thank God Leah and I have built up an emergency fund for when they get goofy. I also like that they’ve started to feel guilty when they have these hiccups.

I’ve been reading this blog, from a local SEO company. Mostly it’s overly verbose, but this post has a nice summary of a conference session: Diagnosing Web Site Architecture Issues from the Search Marketing Expo: SMX Advanced 2008held in Seattle this week. Good links to useful tools.

Also, why aren’t you reading Cat and Girl? Still my favorite webcomic.

Another webcomic: Dumm Comics is new, but daily during the week, and funny. It’s an anthology and a clever idea. My favorite is Katie Rice‘s Skadi.

I continue to look forward to the Watchmen movie. Evidence: here and here. At the very least it looks excellent.

That’s all the misc I can fit into the past hour, so that’ll have to do it.

What are you reading these days? What’s got you thinking and laughing? Please post it in the comments!

Thank You, Hillary

Back in January I indicated I wanted Obama to be my President. I still do.

Test Post.

Pay no attention. Thanks. Also, very busy. No blog post today. Glad Leah’s back though.

Stew on Theater Talk

Very enjoyable.

And also: Stew Plays Drunk at the Obies (read the whole thing), it does get a bit too wild for work:

Because of Stew, I am looking forward to the Tony Awards.

I don’t believe it either.

Drop Everything for this Stew Interview

Interview with Stew

Hilarious and insightful, as he often is:

Here’s a quote!

What did you know about theater or Broadway before you developed this show?

Very little. I had a lot of respect for people like Bertolt Brecht. I had read Brecht, and he touches a lot of rock performers more than any other theorist or writer in the theater world, I think, because his theories are very rock ‘n’ roll. Like the way he talks about the way an actor plays a role without trying to make anyone think that they are that character, and reminds the audience that they’re watching a play. In high school, when you’re a rock ‘n’ roll stoner, your mortal enemies are the thespians. We thought that musical theater was the dorkiest thing in the world and had nothing to do with the music we listened to. And quite frankly we still feel that way. I mean, uh, we don’t understand why Broadway doesn’t, for the most part, utilize the music of the street, the car, the headphones.

My Wife Met Juan Valdez

Plurk. Yes, another social network with dubious merits.

Interesting interface, nice timeline, pretty. I intend to look at the JavaScript under the hood.


Wood Beez + Scritti Politti + 1980s Music

Wood Beez is turning into one of those songs that I play over and over and over and over in an effort to, what, understand? Get it? Enjoy? The video is deconstructionist frippery, and ultimately harmless. The black pride salute reference is an interesting choice.

I remember liking Perfect Way and Wood Beez, and taping them off the radio (91X, Rock of the 80s as they were called in the 1980s) onto cassettes, but it never got past that. Turns out Scritti Politti are a rather interesting band, or rather Green Gartside is an interesting engine that powers the band. Here’s the main internet fansite. It’s suitably odd and enjoyable.

In 1985 I was 15 years old and was much more info Talking Heads and New Order and Roxy Music. A lot of other stuff too, but those were the bands I was obsessed over. Scritti Politti was cool but it wasn’t the kind of nonsense that hit me in the gut. Now, when David Byrne screams “You can’t see it, until it’s finished!” on Artists Only, that hit me in the gut.

There are 1980s stations now, but the range of what they play tends to miss songs like Wood Beez or odder fare like Gang of Four or Pere Ubu or Nina Hagen–but these are the oddities that I think of when I think 1980s.

June Gloom

Coming south out of Malibu to Santa Monica

View on the way into work today. Pretty in a June Gloom way. Onward into the weekend!

Silliness of the Day

Keep your kids safe.

via Kynn.

Oh, right, blogging. Hi!

Points that may or may not represent a plane.

Had a nice father’s day. Got a Happy Father’s Day card from the kids and none of the four kids felt it necessary to add “step” to my appellation. A nice surprise.

Drove by the beach yesterday, pretty.

Talked to my Mom and Dad yesterday on their Anniversary. Mom feeling good! Will restart chemo in July. Enjoying life. Wished my Dad a Happy Father’s Day! Love them. Sometimes difficult to live so far away from them.

Got my Hulk Cup on. Goes with Iron Man cup.

Hulk Cup and Iron Man cup like ebony and ivory

Slurpee cups are a very cheap hobby.

Another topic altogether: Our three houseguests continue to be a great blessing to us.

Dayjob going great working with a good team, and most importantly, with another programmer who’s much smarter than me (or at least smarter than me in interesting new areas) on a cool project. No other details available to the public at this time.

Currently not impressed by the invoice-paying mechanisms of dayjob. Five invoices in, one of which is now past due. Baby needs a new pair of shoes. So does the IRS. Leah was saying our ability to weather this unexpected interruption of predictable cashflow is testament to our new, good financial practices. I might call that the Dave Ramsey effect.

It’s great to have Leah home, even in small ways. Her Colombia posts are great.

My swimmer’s ear is cleared up, huzzah. Work should be less intense this week, so I intend to swim tonight.

Movies enjoyed this weekend: An Affair to Remember, Tron, and High Fidelity.

Mr. Bird needs more time out of his cage. He’s getting more anti-social. We have to work on that.

And thus, the week begins. Rock on.

My Name Is Elderberry! How Do You Do?

In March I wrote about a recruiter calling me “Laurel”:

Today’s bad automated email starts like this:

Hello Elderberry

The following position is open with one of our largest billion dollar clients.

Please review the requirement below with our direct client.If you are interested, please send an updated resume in a word document format and we will call you to further discuss.


I want to apologize in advance if you are receiving this e-mail and it does not match your professional expertise. We utilize a search tool that does its best to match required skills with your skills and in most cases; it is approximately 90% accurate. Resumes that are searched are located on one of 4 major job boards.

If the requirement below does not match your job expectations or your skill set, you may still want to e-mail your resume with the type of position desired. We work on positions throughout the USA and abroad.

Search Engineer
Location: North Hollywood, CA
Job Type: Contract
Duration: 6 months with extension. (potential temp to perm)
Rate: $35 hr.

No, my name is not Elderberry, either. I did live on Elderberry Avenue a little while back.


In Brief: Happily

Last night at LA Flash: Chumby Fest! I had the incredible thing happen, I won a Chumby. It’s cute, and hackable. I will be adoring its cuteness and hacking its hackability when I get some time.

Work is busy right now, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. It’s stretched my OO skills in PHP5, and stretched my understanding of REST and lots of other stuff too. It’s enjoyable and maybe sometime I’ll talk about it more in depth.

Dev is staying with us for a while. We’re turning into a packed house. Though two of our houseguest and Leah are in Utah. They’re sisterizing. I look forward to the safe return of all of them.

Got paid, which I whined about on twitter and here. We are again able to meet our obligations. I’ve no idea if dayjob is going to be late with their checks again, but we’re ready if they do it to us again.

Yesterday tried to swim, but Camarillo changed their dang hours on me! I was confronted with water aerobics ladies instead of my normal lapswimming. Add that to the fact that it was four-to-a-lane on Monday night for swimming at Calabasas, and the ocean is looking pretty attractive for usual swimming habits. That, or dawn patrol.

I mentioned already that my swimmer’s ear is gone, right? Well, it is.

Sunday night we watched the Tonys and were delighted that Stew won Best Book of a Musical. We watched the whole Tonys and had a good time. Who knew that I’d eagerly look forward to the Tonys? It defies rational explication. Well, maybe it can be explained, I do love Stew.

I mentioned that I won a Chumby right? Still can scarcely believe that.

Okay, time to begin the day.

General Zod Never Fails

…to add levity to my busy days. Learning lots, doing lots. Love that Zod!

ArtLung Blogpost Count

MAS did it, then JeSais did it, and heck, I was curious. What is the number of times I’ve posted to blogs I’ve participated in?

  • 3,160 posts on my personal blog (posting since 2001).
  • 698 posts from me on my old city blog. No longer posting there much since I sold it.
  • ronny vardy fan: 75 posts, mostly just images
  • 73 posts on my Respiratory Therapy blog.

Total: 4006 Posts as of today.

My Sister Is Beautiful

She’s not as public a person as me, but she is so awesome and so beautiful and I’m very happy for her and proud of her.

Here’s a photo of my little sister and her husband on their wedding day.

On My Mind Now

If I were to try to try and describe the contents of my brain, I think the simile I’d use would be that it’s like the tornado in The Wizard of Oz, with a swirling mass of items rotating around in it — a messy mass.

But that tornado does move the plot along rather well.

It’s been hot here in Moorpark, very hot. This is rather inconvenient for us because our central air conditioning broke down over a week ago. We’re using a backup system of every-room-gets-a-fan and take-it-easy-during-the-day. The landlord is working on this issue for us. I’m hoping that we get a new AC unit soon, though it sounds like in the meantime they’re going to replace the compressor.

Also on the home care front, we have ants. On Sunday we had a full scale invasion in one part of the kitchen. We dealt with that one, regrouped vulnerable foodstuffs, placed the Grant’s traps, and we were good. They came back somewhat, and on Monday night we placed some foundation chemicals around the perimeter where the ants have been originating. They came back, escaping our chemicals by choosing to go up walls and along the ceiling before coming down toward the main kitchen area. I find this rather innovative, but I don’t have enough admiration to let them be. So this is how last night I ended up mounting some of the traps along the ceiling.

Aerial Warfare with Grant's Ant Stakes

Also on the home front, Devon, oldest of the four kids at age 19, has moved in with us temporarily before he moves in with some buddies in July. It’s a rather nice surprise to have one of the kids with us 100% of the time. He also has two baby feline companions with him, which is really the reason he’s here. They were banned from his Dad’s house, so here we are. I was a bit worried about him earlier this year, but he seems to be getting it together rather nicely and I’m proud of his progress toward adulthood.

Work is busy, and complex, and good. I don’t really want to say more than that at this point. My contract will be up at the very end of July and I’m not sure what I will do next.

Financially things are going well. We had that hiccup about getting paid earlier this month, but at the moment we’re where I want us to be. We always could be doing better, but this very month we retired two smaller (one less than $1K, one for $3k) two debts. Retiring a debt is always a great thing. The IRS debt looms largest, because they are the dog with the most menacing teeth, but for now we’re paying nice and regularly and we’re on track to be ahead of the game for 2008’s taxes as well. Just barely, but we will be there. That’s rather exciting for me. Obviously life will intrude on such declarations, but I think even if Murphy’s Law visits us, our emergency fund is there for such things. We’re still on “step 2” of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.

Strange as it may seem, the most profound spiritual sustenance I get these days are in listening to Dave Ramsey, swimming, and looking at the ocean. I also have embraced some of my more theistic attributes in quieter ways, though talking about it here may not be something I’m ready to do. I’ll leave it at that.

Ramsey is a very smart communicator, and his experiences (getting rich, going bankrupt, getting rich again) give him the kind of wisdom I respond to well — hard won intelligence and compassion. Had you told me that I would enjoy the financial radio show (I listen to the free podcast) of a Christian Evangelical Conservative I would not have believed you. But the Baby Steps make good sense. Whenever he talks politics or government I disagree, unless he’s saying “don’t look to Washington or the Presidential candidates to solve your problems” which I agree with. I think he ignores the public works projects this country has done which have done good. But no matter, what he’s best at is talking to real people — single parents, twenty- and thirtysomethings, young marrieds, middle-agers, retirees — and helping them deal with good and bad decisions to help give them financial peace. The short version is that debt is almost always a poor choice. The only debt he likes, and only begrudgingly, is a mortgage for a home — and only if you can put down a big down payment and get a 15 year fixed mortgage. All other debt – credit cards, car loans, student loans, borrowing for a business, borrowing from family, are bad. When people call in with trouble and confusion asking “why am I not able to make ends meet” he’s able to turn that call into an opportunity to dissect what’s not working in broad strokes and give practical advice. It’s rather marvelous. Some people’s problems are relatively easy — bought a car you can’t afford, get rid of it — but for some it’s a layoff and health problems compounded with an adjustable rate mortgage that has kicked in bad. He is able, somehow, to deftly advise these folks to get traction on their finances. In the most desperate situations, he tells people how to prioritize what they can do — yes pay rent, utilities and food, no, don’t pay that stupid credit card, yes sell the car. Yes, not paying your credit card will ruin your credit, but that’s where you are anyway, so you have to get your income up and run your money, rather than letting your money run you.

When I think about how long I let my money run me, not being proactive about the decisions I took, I get a little shocked by how ignorant I was in the ways of money. Budget? What’s that? Financial future? What’s that? But I must say, Ramsey put it all together for me as I got my life back together.

I didn’t mean this post to get so financial, but it’s what’s on my mind now.

Time to get to work. Remote today. Have a great day.

Around the Web

Chuck got married. Mazel tov!

There’s a Princess Bride Game, and I can’t quite tell if the thing is serious.

These primitive sketches for some notable web sites are interesting.

These four calendar pages are Surfrider Foundation. The pages make their point pretty well.

Surfers versus Paparazzi. My bet would be on the surfers.

John McCain has a load of credit card debt. That’s just so dumb.

Also, his website is bad.

Have you recently moved to mass transit from driving in the L.A. area? If so, the L.A. Times wants to talk to you.

Only 73 percent of American atheists don’t believe in god.

Interesting quote from Douglas Crockford: There has been a lot of news recently about mismanagement at Yahoo. It is good to be able to point with pride at something that Yahoo does that is extremely smart. The Exceptional Performance Team is one of the things that makes me proud to be at Yahoo.

Adriano Santi, a fellow 3ones member, opens an online store to show and sell his work. If you’re moved, buy something!

Code Rush is a documentary about Mozilla which I downloaded and intend to watch.

How do I get John Kricfalusi to draw caricatures at my parties?

Regina Lynn’s blog SexRev 2.0 launched a few weeks back with some tech help from me.

Anil Dash’s piece about the philanthropy of Bill Gates is worth a read.

This graph of oil prices from Forbes from 1861 to today is quite interesting. via Paul Kedrosky

Track the shuttle and international space station in realtime!

That’s it for today.

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