I’ve been spending about an hour each night with the monotonous task of entering data into the MP3 tags in my music library. The obsessive-compulsive side of my brain is silently singing happy songs to itself because it has something else to do besides make my nose twitch or worry about the coffeepot; when I get done, I’ll be able to use the Smart Playlists feature of iTunes to update and organize the 25+GB of music into a comprehensive collection, weeding out the average of 50% filler on each album. Which means, of course, that I have to wade through each artist and categorize by genre, then drill down to the album category and categorize by year, and then finally wade through each individual song and rate fron zero to five. (Nevermind that I could theoretically erase the songs which rate, say 1 or below: this is about compulsive behavior, remember.)

Whew. I’m somewhere in the M’s, I think, and I have about 2,000 more to go. I keep telling myself it will be worth it when I’m done. It is nice to start making dinner, though, and start the ‘Early Jazz’ playlist: All songs in the Jazz, Big Band, and Swing category recorded between 1920 and 1929 with a rating above three gives me a pleasant mixture of early Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong, and Fletcher Henderson.

Here’s a fantastic gallery of pictures from Iraq taken by a soldier there. It’s worth a look.

My Kingdom For A T8 Star Wrench. Dammit. I have Jen’s Powerbook here at work ready to install Panther and I forgot that the hard drive sled takes a star wrench—the size below the standard in every stupid wrench set sold. (I’m swapping her 6GB drive for a 12GB drive.) I have one, but I think it’s at home. Along with my wallet. Can you tell it’s one of those mornings?

Date posted: November 13, 2003 | Filed under geek, music | Leave a Comment »

I finally have some direction on the second project I’ve been tasked with; what I thought was going to be a mindless creation of small tileable elements has turned into something that could be interesting and challenging to model in 3DSmax. I have some basic ideas and need to take some reference photos tomorrow—I’m actually looking forward to this!

To the Guy At My Company Who Borrowed The Company Camera And Left It At His House The Day There’s A ’64 Mercury Monterrey In The Parking Lot Here At Work: Thanks a bunch, douchebag. You’re a prince. Memo to self: Never, ever leave the camera at home, even if you’re carrying three hundred pounds of crap to the car.

Update Update. Turns out the folks at MICA left a helpful typo in the letter they sent me about the class, so I showed up a week early. Isn’t that great?

Date posted: November 12, 2003 | Filed under art/design | Leave a Comment »

Looks like the class isn’t tonight. I’m hoping to hell I didn’t mess up the schedule, but the letter they sent me says November 11, 7pm in big letters.

Higher Education. I’m sitting in a lobby area of the Bunting center, which formerly was the AAA building with the cheap cafeteria on the basement level. The whole outside of MICA has changed dramatically since I was here last; the big glass sail thing overwhelms the Fox building and Mt. Royal Avenue, and there’s a frickin’ fountain where the parking lot used to be. All the kids look the same though (funny how dreadlocks are still so art school), and the air still smells of turpentine and Patchouli oil. I’m not sure where I have to go or what room this class is in because the visual communication in the Visual Communication department blows. More on that later.

Dust In The Wind. I got the rest of the upstairs edged with the hand sander this afternoon; with the exception of the areas under the built-in shelves in the office, the floor is clear of varnish. I have to finish sand the Pink room and the edges I tore up today, but otherwise all is ready for stain.

Everything Must Go. To our neighbors, the renters across the street: Thanks for parking your broke-down Dodge Diplomat on the front lawn with the For Sale sign in the window. That’s great. I’m gonna put on my plaid suit and go inflate the giant pumpkin on my lawn.

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? Unable to sleep last night, I started researching the Griffin iTrip, the little add-on to the iPod that broadcasts your songlist to FM radio. Jason told me he had read bad reviews about it, so I looked at a few message boards and found that there’s a lot of negative feedback, especially in metro radio markets saturated with FM stations. So the iTrip is off my Christmas list, and instead I’ll have to find an aftermarket car radio with a line-in plug. Sigh.

Date posted: November 11, 2003 | Filed under house, humor, music | Leave a Comment »

Parsa Kabob, the local Persian restaurant, is tucked away in the side of a shopping mall a little south of my office. It’s staffed by a friendly fellow who knows your favorite dish before you’ve reached the counter, and it smells like garlic and fresh bread inside. I drove Todd there for lunch this afternoon, and instead of walking next door to the comic book store (super sweet!) while waiting for his order, we checked out the dollar store. Inside, for $7.35, I picked up three rolls of X-mas wrapping paper, a box of boxes, a pair of work gloves, a green lightbulb (so that folks can “stop at the green light” as opposed to sailing on past our house and into Ellicott City), and Lieutenant Extreme. Lieutenant Extreme is a 1′ poseable plastic action figure, sort of a poor kid’s old-skool GI Joe, and the particular LT I bought is wearing a camofluage hoodie and packing an M-16. This is the kind of thing I would have paid months of allowance for when I was eight or so. Look at the beauty in buying Lieutenant Extreme in bulk at the dollar store: Your kid could spend all week beating the crap out of Lieutenant Extreme and blow him up on Sunday, and you’d have another one waiting for him Monday morning for the kingly sum of $1. He may not pose quite as well as Mr. Joe, or have comparable footwear (Lieutenant Extreme has two-piece plastic boots that snap together over his feet like concrete sneakers), but you get a lot for your Washington. Right now he’s standing point on my monitor, plastic eyes scanning the horizon for signs of trouble, M-16 set on “full auto.” Step off, yo.

Another Aspirin, Please. I met Jason last night at the Brewer’s Art for some drinks and conversation; we had a great time catching up and sampled the Ozzy (any beer poured from a tap sporting a rubber hand in the ‘metal ruuuules‘ pose is one you have to drink) but I found that three glasses of 7.5ABV beer is not so good for my head in the morning.

One good thing is that being in a bar talking loudly over other people in cigarette smoke drops my otherwise squeaky (to me) voice down about two octaves.

Looks like Todd has signed on to the HDR project as well as my eight students; I’m trying to figure out how I can get his stuff critiqued by the class (if they’ll even let me.) Somehow i think the new MICA isn’t going to let non-students come in and audit classes like my friend Jason did back in the day.

Date posted: November 11, 2003 | Filed under friends, humor | Leave a Comment »

leaf, frederick road, 11.9.03

Thanks to Jason for Panther; I’m kind of nervous about installing it just yet, but it’s great to have ready.

Additions. Renie reminded me to add another cherished memory from childhood:

Don’t forget about the William Tell Overture and HOURS of hauling firewood—nay, large dead trees—to the green Ford F150.

(My Dad, in a well-meant bid for lower fuel bills in the gas crunch of the late 70’s, decided to install a wood stove in the basemen of our house. Which, naturally, meant we had to go chop wood, drag it to the truck, haul it to the house, split it, stack it down by the shed, and carry wheelbarrowfuls to the basement window each night after dinner. Ah, the memories. Don’t get me started on the time he made me climb a ladder to throw a brick down the flue to clean it…)

The 1812 Overture. One of the wonderful things about living in Catonsville is the number of old trees that surround the neighborhood. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and our yard has been looking like a vacant lot for about two weeks. My father, in the old days, used to wake us for raking duty by putting records on his 1950’s era console record player and blasting the volume; usually it was Tchaikovsky, and he would roust us from bed in the hours before dawn, prop us at the table in front of bacon and eggs, and then kick us out the front door with rakes in our hands to clean the yard. Being young and stupid, we would complain, fool around, and make the job last until long after lunch, when he would stick his head out of the garage or from under the car to tell us to get back to work. I quickly developed a dislike for raking and a Pavlovian response to Tchaikovsky. When I moved to the city and bought a rowhouse, I said a prayer of thanks for the lack of lawn to mow and rake. When we bought the house in Catonsville, I knew what I was getting into, but found that mowing was actually kind of satisfying; unfortunately I’ve confirmed that my dislike of raking is still alive and well.

(To be fair, doing the front yard was kind of fun. About halfway through the backyard, I got sick of it suddenly.)

Date posted: November 10, 2003 | Filed under family, history, photo | Leave a Comment »

Jen is now (12:25PM) in the middle of shopping for a weding dress. her mother stayed with us last night, and we had a fantastic dinner with her, sipping wine and talking. After the dishes, I was able to make a fire in the fireplace and keep it going; the damper in the flue is gone, so all the air in the house is drawn to the chimney and past the fire, which gets too much oxygen and smolders itself out. I closed the glass doors built onto the front of the hearth and found that the fire burned brightly and well that way. We’ll have to have somebody come out to replace the missing damper so we can enjoy both the heat and the light from the flames.

Date posted: November 8, 2003 | Filed under family, house | Leave a Comment »

sunset, frederick road, 11.03

sunset, frederick road, 11.03

I have the aformentioned items in my hot little hands; a helpful fellow at an undisclosed organization was kind enough to ship me two via FedEx yesterday. I’m asking the students to redesign the packaging of the Humanitarian Daily Ration, the standard foodstuff airdropped to refugees in places like Afghanistan and Iraq (and often confused with unexploded cluster bomb munitions). In my humble opinion the design leaves a lot to be desired, and I’d like to see what the students can come up with to make the package more self-explanatory and inviting.

Well, it looks like FireWire cards are super-cheap ($15+), so I may be picking one of them up sooner rather than later. That’s some good news. I also renewed my domain name for another two years with the Evil Empire.

Date posted: November 7, 2003 | Filed under art/design, geek, photo | Leave a Comment »

Tonight I hope to have a package on the back porch from FedEx which will complete the research phase of my MICA class; I’m reserving any comment on it until I have it in my hands, because of the heightened paranoia security in place around governmental agencies. I’m sure my name is on a list somewhere because of my inquiries into this particular item.

Day two of life with the iPod, and I’m finding out that there’s yet another stumbling block with digital nirvana. I have limited space on the Powerbook here, and it is currently the only machine we own with a FireWire port and OSX. The iMac has 120GB (don’t believe the manufacturer’s ‘claimed’ drive space estimates) but only a USB port. The PC has 120GB but no FireWire port; I could buy an add-on card and then use a service such as ephpod to manage from that machine. But that’s not the answer I was hoping for. Sigh.

Other than that, I’m in love. It’s a beautiful, intuitive machine, and it handles all three of the functions I used to use my Palm for—contacts, calendars, and notes. Plus, it’s a backup hard drive (carrying a current version of my Library folder for a quick restore) and library. Nice job, Apple.

Notes on Popular Culture, The Short List.

  1. Memo to the Little Debbie People: In the real world, any child caught singing to his or her snack cake during lunch period at an American school would be totally destroyed.
  2. Memo to the Smart family, RE your daughter’s upcoming TV movie: You are media whores. You look pretty rich to me. You have enough money to own horses and live in Utah. Why do you need to exploit your daughter’s abduction on the Today show and Oprah?
  3. Memo to the Lynch family RE Your daughter’s upcoming TV movie: Why did you agree to this crap?
  4. Memo to CBS: You are so spineless, it makes me laugh.

Love, Bill.

Whoops. Turns out our appointment at the Brass Elephant last night was supposed to have been rescheduled, but we didn’t get the word. So they gave us cocktails and some hors d’oeuvres on the house, and we relaxed in their swank upstairs bar. Then we walked next door to Mughal Garden for a tasty Indian dinner.

Date posted: November 6, 2003 | Filed under apple, geek, humor | Leave a Comment »

Today seems to be dragging on and on, and I can’t seem to make this interface look like anything other than puke.

On the other side, looking through iPodlounge, I’ve found a few resources for running the iPod on both the Mac and the PC (which for me is good because getting music from the iMac to the iPod is a pain in the butt.) And the alarm I set for the Brass Elephant tasting tonight in iCal just rang off on the iPod. Sweet. And the included earbuds sound about 200% better than the Sony ‘sport’ headphones I bought before Bimini—there’s much more bass in these.

Yessir, That’s My Baby! Jen sent me an email with the subject line “The Utz Guy honked at me!”:

“On my way in to work there was this semi truck driver who was honking and I didn’t know why. It turns out that he was honking at me!! He was just a-waving and a-honking like a fool.”

As if any red-blooded American male driving isn’t going to a-wave and a-honk at a hot blonde in a blue sportscar!

D’oh. Yesterday I missed the third anniversary of our first date, when I made an admittedly poor dinner for Jen and then took her to the BSO; this also marks the second year in a row that I’ve missed that particular anniversary. So I had her lay in front of the TV and did a full-on Billatsu massage until my fingers started to cramp; hopefully that will make up for about a quarter of the dumb-osity of forgetting the date.

Presents for Me. Yesterday the iPod showed up on my desk (Todd called my cellphone during the meeting yesterday in a high-pitched voice and said: “This is your iPod. I’m on your desk at work! Come and get me!”) and I was somewhat dissapointed to find that Apple doesn’t pack it in the original square box. I got a brown old-school Apple box (“Reconditioned Product”) with all the gear in original packaging; the iPod itself is almost flawlessly clean. I updated my software and plugged it in to the Powerbook, and within about two minutes all my music was on the drive. Then I updated the calendar and address book with iSync. I have a lot to learn about using this, but I’m thrilled with it so far.

Missed. I also missed the FedEx guy by about ten minutes this morning (I was in the shower.) The helpful fellow I mentioned last week sent me two items for my class, which is a huge help. Now I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

Date posted: November 5, 2003 | Filed under geek, humor | Leave a Comment »

Yay. I got up at 6:15 to be at the park & ride by 6:50; we drove immediately into traffic and were stuck fast until 9:45. After finding someplace to park and signing into the building, we were sent through a metal detector and escorted upstairs directly into the meeting with no chance for a bathroom break. Swell.

One thing about driving through DC—there’s a ton of excellent architecture in the Northwest corridor and a lot of great photo potential; everything from arts and crafts bungalows to ornate Victorian brickwork to Spanish-style apartments to Bauhaus inspired apartment blocks. Walking to the meeting through Chinatown was great from a diversity standpoint; all the professionals walking the streets are stylish to a degree not seen in Baltimore. I do miss working down here, even if I don’t miss the commute.

Date posted: November 4, 2003 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »