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August 31, 2002

Evil DDR

I have a blister on my foot because of DDR.

August 29, 2002

Fair Warning

With the start of classes, I find myself back onto a fixed daily schedule for the first time since, well, the last time I was in school. It's kind of a strange adjustment.

In any case, I've also decided to pare down my blog entries to one or two a week, and to only make entries when I feel it necessary to update my friends on the goings on instead of ranting and raving about nonsense. I was thinking about the practice of blogging in general and I've decided that it's slowly taking me back to the days of spending all my time thinking and talking about living instead of actually living.

Stagnation, in other words. With my new schedule and decrease in free time, I believe it's a good idea to make the blog a far lower priority. So, as they say, you have been warned.

August 27, 2002

A Change in Focus

The original intent of this blog was to document some of the experiences I had overseas during my stay in Shanghai. Now that tenure is complete, I am struggling to find a focus for this thing.

I've decided to write this blog as though I was updating my friends on things going on in my life. That means occasionally you might still see some humor like the post about cabs, but for the most part, if you're not one of my friends, you'll find this dull beyond purgatory.

I figure since nobody reads this outside of my circle of friends anyway I'm not really hurting anyone. I am also in the process of starting a new "blog" which I will use to feature some of my "fictional" writing. This should prove to be of more interest to people who are just surfing the web for entertaining tidbits.

August 26, 2002

Phoebe Reunion

After ten months apart, I was reunited with Phoebe this weekend. What a sweet reunion it was. I took a tandem flight with Arlan to knock the cobwebs off, and then had five short, but good flights on Phoebe.

It felt soooo good to be flying again. I also clicked over 10 hours flight time today. Hang 3 here I come, baby.

August 23, 2002

Drivers Ed

I prefer to drive at night.

Not just 8 or 9 PM. But more like 2, 3, 4, 5 AM. Why?

Because there are far fewer people driving during those hours. I'll take my chances with reduced visibility any day if it means I don't have to be on the road at the same time as:

  • Soccer mom on cell phone driving while also managing fight between kids in back seat
  • Drivers Ed first timers
  • People in a hurry to get to their dead-end loser jobs
  • Emotionally distraught just-broke-up-with-boy/girl-friend idiot
  • People in a hurry to get home from their dead-end loser jobs
  • People eating in the car
  • People doing their nails in their car
  • People watching TV in their car
  • Idiots
  • People driving SUVs who can't handle them
  • People driving 320hp race cars who can't handle them
  • Idiots
  • Lexus drivers
  • Idiots

People, when you are driving, DRIVE. Period.
Man. And you wonder why I prefer to fly. Criminy.

August 22, 2002

Audience Impressions

Got a bunch of goodies to listen to today: Meadowlark Audio Kestrel speakers, Nordost Black Knight and Solar Wind interconnects, and Roy bought a pair of Nordost Flatline speaker cable.

The Kestrels sound great, especially compared to the Paradigms that Roy had. He's thinking about buying them, but wants to hear the Dynaudio Audience 62 before he makes the final decision. I was going to audition the Black Knights and the Solar Winds for use as Pre/Pro to Power Amp connectors, but my Parasound HCA-806A appears to be having some problems so I'm pretty concerned about it. In the meantime, we'll "make do" with Roy's Arcam AVR100 and test the interconnects between Mike's CD62 and the AVR100.

That's the report for today. Happy listening.

August 21, 2002

A Pox on Thee

Oh yeah. I've been meaning to write about this for quite some time now.

I hereby officially denounce Union Bank of California.

On July 2, I made a deposit of over $1800 at the Bellevue, WA, branch. The amount was spread over three checks, one of which was a US Treasury check made out to my parents (their tax refund), which they had signed and had instructed me to deposit as a third party check into my own account.

Over a week later, the money still hasn't shown up in my account, so I call to make some inquiries. Well, apparently, the bank's policy is not to accept third party checks. This is fine with me. They tell me that the check should be returned to me. This is also fine, even though because of my situation it would probably be delayed in the mail. More time passes and still nothing, so I call and they tell me to send a letter to request a formal inquiry. Fine. About a week after that, I receive something telling me that they have done an investigation and haven't found shit. So the matter is closed.

My ass the matter is closed! No explanation on what they did or what... So right now there's more than $1800 that has either been stolen from me by either my own bank or an employee of my bank, or lost because of negligence on their part. Unfortunately, they are utterly uncooperative. I am considering legal action, but never having been pissed enough at someone to sue their ass, I don't know how to go about doing this. Any suggestions?


Well, one sure sign of my recovery from the doldrums is that I seem to appreciate music again. These last few days, after getting the place a little settled, we hooked up part of the audio/video setup. Couldn't get the whole thing going just yet because I found that I'm missing my Audioquest Jade interconnects, but now I'm thinking about replacing those babies. I have to remind myself that I don't want to spend any large amount of money on my setup until which time I own a house so that I can start back from scratch and do it right, all at once. From the ground up. But listening to good music from a good audio setup is certainly one of those things that life is all about.

Anyway, if you're curious, we're currently listening with Mike's Arcam CD62 CD player, hooked up to Roy's Arcam AVR100 with Straight Wire interconnects and sometimes my Audioquest X digital coax interconnect, Roy's Paradigm Mini-Monitors, and my Parasound HCA-806A power amp for 2-channel music. We both agree that using the analog outputs from the CD62 sound better than using the digital; I theorized that it was due to the Burr-Brown DACs in the CD62, but Roy wasn't as sold on the idea of it all being in the DACs. I do agree that DACs are definitely not the whole story, which is somewhat of a reversal of my old belief that DACs were far more important than the transport. All you have to do is hook up the XBox and play a CD using the digital out (so you use the same DAC) and then hook up, say, my Sony DVP-S7700 and use the same DAC, and whooooaaaa...

So anyway. This is kind of a temporary setup right now. Mike will probably want his CD player back at some point, and once I get my interconnects I'll probably hook up the Acurus. We'll see what it all sounds like then. And maybe some Nordost cables are in my future too.

I blame Roy. Yes, for once, Mike K, you're off the hook. Someone else has gotten me into something that will cause my ultimate doom...

August 15, 2002


Much to my surpise and amusement, there is an AJ Wingers at Purdue. Chaz and I enjoyed some of the sweet, caustic, radioactive goodness of some medium, with the requisite antidote teriyaki (petroleum sludge) to keep the stuff from burning a hole in our stomachs. Haven't had that stuff in years (ever since the one in Champaign was closed down by the health department). Yummy.


Had a couple of dreams last night, including the first school-related dream I've had since, well, the last time I was in school. Ugh.

It's the first day of class, and of course I'm late already. Get on the bus, expecting to be about half an hour late (to a one hour class). It's the wrong bus, but somehow I get to class on time anyway. I go into the classroom, which is in the basement of some dank, nasty looking building which I can only describe as Everitt Lab, the home of the ECE department. Outside, vans promoting Pepsi and Coke are doing some back to school nonsense. Yes, the fricking advertisements have leapt off the TV, off the web pages, off the billboards and INTO MY DREAMS. Bloody Cripes!!!! Anyway, the professor is 15 minutes late, and all he does is come in and tell us that there's an exam next week. Doesn't give us a syllabus, or even tell us what class we're in, or what to study for. I leave, only the bulding has turned into the back hallways of a stadium, and of course I'm lost. I wander around for a while, and finally come upon... an airport. Yes, there is an airport in the basement of Everitt Lab. I always knew something was fishy about that microelectronics lab down there. Now this is where the dream gets really disturbing. I see a United 767 (only it's not really a 767 because the tail was wrong, but whatever) taxi past me, and while it's taxiing, a bunch of maintenance guys are working on it. Yes, they're working on the plane while it's moving. After a few seconds, they finish whatever it is they were doing, and button up the doors and cargo doors hastily. The plane taxis around, under an interstate highway overpass. Suddenly, a bug zapper on top of the plane explodes and bursts into flames. Don't ask me what a bug zapper is doing on top of an airplane. The crew get out as the fire spreads, and I walk over, where the female captain of the plane is just getting out of the cockpit window. She explains that it's a cargo plane, and no one else is on board, and that she's glad the fire broke out on the ground and not a few minutes later. Yes, I know United has no more cargo-only planes, and that 767's were never cargo-only plane even when they did have them, and that climbing out the cockpit and onto the ground is not really possible. That and her uniform didn't look like the standard United uniform. But whatever. I woke up.

This dream tells me that:

  • I am deathly afraid of going back to school
  • Everitt Lab will haunt me for all Eternity
  • The Man is invading my dreams, and my mind
  • I'm afraid for United (the maintenance symbolized the company's ongoing efforts to recover while the airline operates, the fact that the plane was a 767 is probably because that was the model involved in an incident last September in which idiotic, psychotic zealots* used my friend to kill thousands of people, the interstate highway symbolizes the fact that people are too wussy right now to fly and are instead using other transportation, which is the same reason why it's a cargo plane...)
  • Pepsi and Coke are in some Unholy Alliance

Ugh. What a way to start the day.
* They're not "terrorists" they're idiots and psychos. Stop glorifying them into something more.


I'm going to sleep in my own bed for the first time since February tonight.

'nuff said.

August 14, 2002


The true test of loyalty is not whether friends will stand by you on the sunny days, but rather, whether they stand with you in your darkest hour. I have been flying on United Airlines since I was 11 years old, and they have transported me a distance equivalent to going to The Moon and back. Right now, they are in a fight for their lives. Rumors that they may file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection are increasingly difficult to ignore. With that, I wanted to publically express my support for an old friend. Following are reasons why I fly United over any other airline...

  • The best route network in America... to America, and the world
  • The best planes in the industry, and the most widebodies of all US airlines
  • Fact is, I probably pay less or the same for my tickets on United as people being herded like cattle on "discount" airlines. Only I'm flying a real airline with a history that goes back to the birth of aviation, with the best planes, pilots, and crew in the sky. I just do my homework.
  • Actually, it really amuses me that people have this perception that discount airlines are cheaper. Here's a newsflash, folks: they're not. They're only cheaper if you don't put a little effort into it. Only the discount airline treats you like cattle and you don't mind because you think you're paying less than me. Now if United really wanted to be a leader in this regard, they could completely restructure their arcane fare structure and make it easier for all of us.
  • The little touches by United crew and ground staff that tell me that they appreciate my loyalty. Frequent flyer programs allow them to see how much I fly, like any other airline, but I believe the small touches, or "unpublished" benefits are truly unparalleled.
  • Their hubs are some of the best airports in the world. O'Hare is home sweet home.
  • United has an Engineering department. Most airlines do not have a real engineering department, just maintenance. That tells me they aren't innovators, just maintainers.

So I'll stand with you again in a time of need. I had thought about making a run on my frequent flyer miles (and i'm talking about a LOT) since they're not FDIC insured, but I won't do that. I believe in this airline, and I believe this airline is the best in the world, and will continue to be for a long time to come.

Moving SUX

Having to move your own stuff instead of having the company-provided movers pack it all and move it for you really makes one think seriously about swearing off the accumulation of material possessions. I mean, seriously, I've now spent the last five months plus without the vast majority of my stuff, and you know what? I don't miss hardly any of it. In fact, give me my computer, my bed, and a small desk, with a broadband internet connection, and I think that's about all I need fro now on.

That said, here are some thoughts on my latest move:

  • Insight broadband has to be applauded for their incredible service. Placed the order on Friday, they said they'd install it on Monday between 5 and 7. Guy got here at 5:20, was done at 5:40. We have broadband. Hooray for companies that do what they say they're going to do. So rare today.
  • Kudos to Budget truck rental, for doing the exact opposite. They quoted $216 on the phone, but when I went to pick up the truck today they only charged me $103. I used to feel guilty about something like this, but not anymore. If the corporations screw up in their favor, it's way to hard to get it corrected (mainly because they have no incentive to correct their mistakes and that they're evil and are run by The Man) so when they screw up in my favor now, I consider it a small payback.
  • I am definitely no longer a stupid college kid when it comes to apartment hunting. When an apartment company cares so little about their (prospective) residents that they STAND YOU UP for an apartment showing... that says something to me. Namely that they suck! Apparently others don't think so though since they're one of the biggest apartment companies in town...
  • I'm going to have a roommate again, for the first time in years. This should be interesting.
  • Wireless is yummy.
  • Having your own washer and dryer rocks too.

More later. Time to sleep. On the floor. In a sleeping bag. But tomorrow... all that will change. Oh yes. My own bed. Mmmmmmmmmm...

August 5, 2002

You Heard it Here First

Remember when I wrote about gettingFake Diplomas? Well, cnn.com finally catches the story.

August 4, 2002

Years catching up

If I wasn't sure I was gettin' old before I went to bed, I'm definitely sure of it now.

I used to like Papa John's pizza, and wolfing down most of a half-cold pizza, with the pepperocinis and slathered in concentrated flatulence (see column under "Garlic Sauce") after midnight while playing video games or doing homework was an afterthought. And I laughed at people who complained that it upset their stomachs the next day.

Specifically, I joked that they were getting old.

I woke up this morning with a tremendous tummy ache, which, after a lengthy visit to the restroom, feels better now. But I know the years are catching up. No more Papa John's for me.

Speaking of Jade

Perhaps this is a function of growing up or growing old, but lately, I've found that it's becoming harder and harder for things to impress me.

A fast car that looked cool used to get my blood boiling... now anything short of a Ferrari F50 is blah.
Overseas trips used to be exotic and rare... now making 6 of them per year is routine.
Faster computers and the latest software used to be anticipated like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box... now I realize that after just a few months, they will be as useful as those Cracker Jack prizes.
High-end audio equipment used to be my passion... today I went to Glenn Poor's with Mike and Roy and although the Avant Garde speakers sounded amazing, my heart hardly skipped a beat for them.
I used to think of all the unbridled possibilities whenever I met someone new... now I think of all the ways I could screw things up.
I used to trust people and institutions... now it seems everyone's out to get ya, and institutions are just a bigger, more organized way for them to get ya.
And maybe worst of all, I used to tell myself that if I won the lottery I'd still work, but I have to say that at this point, I'd say "fuck it all, I'm going to buy some secluded place in the woods and just retire from society."

Normally I don't put stuff like this in a place where anybody could read it, because it's a horrible way for someone who doesn't know me to be introduced to me. But there's a lot of things on my mind lately, and a lot of changes happening in my life, and just a lot of tumult and turmoil right now. I'm "homeless" as I finalize my living arrangements, and bumming a spot on Mike's floor... I'm going to from making a ton of dough and pretty much doing as I please with it to being a poor student again... I'm wondering if I've lived roughly a quarter to a third of my life, and I've accomplished what seems so little... whether this trend will continue until, when I'm 75 and looking back at it all, what I'll think?

Or next week, when I've got a place to live and I'll be sleeping in my own bed again, with the confidence that comes with having strong friends and family around me, I'll forget these doubts and forge ahead steadfastly.

August 1, 2002


Me: "Yeah, but crackers chafe."
Mike: "Not after you get them wet."

Don't Mess with Texas

Now closing in on the final leg of the Long Journey. In the last 6 days, have:

  • Covered more than 2000 miles
  • Met up with 4 friends in 4 different cities, two of whom I haven't seen in more than 2 years
  • Discovered that the air conditioning will stay on if I don't turn it off between car starts
  • Discovered the above only after baking in 100+ temps for about two hours
  • Circumnavigated a "huge wreck" on I-10 in New Mexico
  • Saw the sprawling metropolis of Silver City, NM, thanks to the above
  • Visited Fort Hancock, TX (where Andy Dufresne crossed the border)
  • Consistently arrived at least 4 hours late to every city
  • Woke up at or around noon every day even though intended to wake up at 8
  • Determined that I-10 from El Paso to mile marker 477 is quite possibly the most desolate stretch of interstate in the country
  • Texas is huge
  • Oklahoma's turnpike, even though you have to pay to use it, has the most ghetto rest areas I've ever seen
  • Learned the hard way not to idle with the air conditioning going when the outside temp is more than 100
  • Still managed to have a great time and be pretty much on schedule after all this...