Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More on Slumdog and my Unjob

Lots of press on Slumdog Millionaire, its Oscars and India's defensive response. "The slums aren't so bad, the police stations are very modern, no blind children beg in Mumbai, we have a space program, etc." True, it's too big of a country to squish into a pigeon hole, but we thought the movie captured the essence of our experience there, the beauty of it too, but mostly the lack of respect for human life. It brought back the same kind of trauma that had us ceremoniously wishing we'd survive, chanting over peacock feathers and tossing them into the wind. Just after this photo was taken, agreeably one of the most beautiful sights we'd ever seen, I got upset by one of the hundreds of starving dogs we saw, this one appearing to be hours from death. The hideous poverty in Agra took the bloom off the Taj Mahal rose.  

I was interested in medical insurance as part of a school project and can still hear a man my age talking about health care. "The government doesn't care about its people. Our lives mean nothing." Ironically, we had to move out of the US to find a government that sees health care as a right and not a privilege, but that's another blog.  

Oh, and we saw plenty of blind children begging. People with disabilities are desirable in the begging rings as they earn more. The slums in the movie looked elegant compared to the muddy tarp-covered pits we experienced. We had a driver with us as we traveled through the north and had to stop every few hours to pay off bribes to the corrupt police. And as for the space program, one of the main challenges in my telemedicine project is that the satellites needed to transmit lifesaving medical data are inaccessible to the clinics who need them and owned by the government.  This man paid 50 rupees per day to the policeman at the "toll station" would let him and his monkeys perform for tips/tourists.

The movie was also accurate in painting the "do what you have to do to get by" phenomenon we saw in India. There's a lot of will to succeed there. There's a whole other tragic thread to the Slumdog story about the child actors being paid under $1000 US dollars each for their parts in the movie. Again, consistent with our experience and the story....the Western world is enjoying easy exploitation and arbitrage of a developing nation and yet we're shocked when our "we want something for nothing" attitude comes back to bite us. The movie's depiction of how tourists as easy targets were (admittedly) true.  

Ultimately, it IS great that people in, say, the heartland of America will see Slumdog and become more interested in India, more compassionate, more open to the diversity that we have here in Australia.  
I also wish Micky Rourke would have won an Oscar for The Wrestler. It was equally pithy. It's a shame I learned how to use Intrade the same day as the Oscars and I was so certain he was a shoo-in for best actor of Sean Penn in Milk. When Tom got home from the office and I told him about my (recoverable yet unfortunate) online gambling loss, he said it's like I have an "un-job...really, just like the opposite of a job". Ah, you just have to laugh.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What kinds of things have you been doing?

Some photos of things we've done the past few weeks:

Our friend Jeannie is a flight attendant and was able to jump seat herself up this way. It was thrilling to understand every single word someone says, even for a short time. 

There are hidden restaurants and adorable little bars all over downtown.  The secret "locals only" instructions to party at this former insane asylum were to "go down an alley, turn left at the dumpster, go down a smaller alley, watch for the sewer stream, become certain that you are both not going to make it and be killed, go down another alley, then you know you're there." We went during the daytime for safety's sake.  Another one called "Eurotrash" has a bed in lieu of tables.  Boggles the mind what the place is like on a busy Saturday night.

At the beach in Barwon Heads, about an hour south of town near Geelong.  Reminded me of Portland, whenever we went to the coast, always thinking, "We're an hour away and we don't come here EVERY weekend, why?!".

Ever since we got here, I've been going on about my desperate wish to hug a koala.  Technically, it's illegal for anyone other than park rangers to hold one, thus the green uniform he's curled around.  Actually, Andy, here, let me get pretty close and I was able to pet him, which was one of my best moments since we arrived.  Andy had a vacant look in his eyes that reminded me of a welder I once dated.  At least with, say, a golden retriever you can infer a hypnotic "give me a treat, give me a treat" mantra.  Not Andy.  He occasionally shifted his head at a glacial speed and yawned a few times.  I think the adorableness might start to wear off after a while; he seemed kind of all take and no give, like the kind of cute that would want to borrow money before too long.  

Update on Sam the Koala

If you scroll down a few posts, you'll see Sam the Koala, our new national heroine, getting a drink. She turned out to be a lady koala after they named her Sam.

David (the Fireman) had poured water in his hand to offer her a drink. Her paw was singed so she dipped it into David's hand, seeking relief from her burns. Then she pounded four bottles of mineral water, pouring about half of it down her little koala chest. I imagine her wondering if there are any biscuits handy.  It's possible I distract myself from heavy emotions with comfort foods. I donno.

She will be in the koala hospital for about 6 months. Colleen Wood, from the shelter, reports that Sam has met a special fellow, another fire survivor, Bob. "They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It's been horrific," said Wood.

Everywhere I go, it seems that I meet people who are a few degrees of separation from Sam.  I mentioned the photo to a woman in a coffee shop at the airport and she is David the Fireman's neighbor. David emailed her the picture and she, in turn, sent it to the local paper.  

She said that David wanted to help her and was chasing Sam (koalas are usually not at all interested in rocking it with the humans). After a few steps, Sam just plopped down as if to concede, "I give up. Do what you will to me. I don't care anymore."  So this stranger at a coffee shop is telling me the story and I burst into tears blabbering, "Isn't that the case though ... sometimes others are trying to help us and we're too scared to let them.” (Then a lot of sniffing, snorting and nose blowing. It was not pretty.)   

Apparently, both Sam and Bob smell like burned flesh; it doesn't bother the other one as it would an uncooked koala.   Colleen Wood reports that, "Sam is probably aged between two to four going by her teeth and Bob is about four so they have a muchness with each other."  

As you can imagine, this brings on more of my overt sentimentality, thinking how it took such pain to bring the two together. But then I start mulling over the phrase 'a muchness with each other'.  Does ‘muchness’ invoke some kind of snack food for you too, maybe with a fresh cucumber dill sour cream dip?

Friday, February 20, 2009


Last night we went to the St Kilda OpenAir movie theater. It's right on the ocean on a rooftop and they provide bean bags or beach chairs to sit on. A band plays beforehand and they also roam around with free food and drinks. A guy came around with a plate of sushi and asked if I wanted a piece, so I took one for myself, looked over to Christine and then took one for her. The server then replied in a slightly concerned way, but also with a vaguely french accent, that "but sir, there are a very many people here tonight and not so very many pieces". I was totally flummoxed. You'd think I had cleared the entire plate into my pouch like a pelican, the top half of my bill clacking away on the empty white plate while I searched for garnishes.

We saw Slumdog Millionaire which I think we can recommend without reservation. I'm not big on spoilers, but it brought back many memories of India. Christine read that the ending was quite unexpected, but I think she was a little disappointed that it wasn't more unexpected, like the main character getting eaten by a landshark. I think the best part of it all was watching the sunset from the roof and sitting out in the open air. When the sun went down the seaguls were circling around the light from the theater and screen, making them seem like oversized shooting stars.

This gallery gives a good idea of what the place is like. I guess outdoor movie theaters are big here. There's the moonlight cinema at the botanical gardens and the rooftop theater playing shows all the time (where we went to go see A complete history of my sexual failures on Valentine's day).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Busy returns

It almost seems like a truism that after leaving/moving, you have a brief period of bliss where you have no commitments or obligations that take away your daily time. Before moving I can't remember having time to read any fiction. I think since arriving I've read three books this month. When packing up my office, there were a giant pile of articles that I kept in hopes of reading again or for the first time. I've probably read on average an article a day since starting work. I have open access to journals now so I scraped the web for every Keith Beven article ever written.

But unpacking those stacks of old articles, and looking at the stack of new articles that have accumulated, and the crushing new deadlines ahead of me.... It just seems unthinkable that I'll have the time to go back and leisurely revisit all that.

I also tried to record my entire music collection to the computer before we left but had to give up when it came to vinyl records. I used to be quite a collector and I had some real gems. I left behind everything that I figured was common enough that I could easily get it again, but kept anything rare or unique (which still ended up being about 200 records!) My hope was to move them over to the computer once I arrived here... Mmmn, I'm kind of thinking that's not going to happen. Wish I could just send them to someone to record for me. Even $3/record would be worth it I think. We found a service to scan old photographs for about 20 for a $1 and let me just say it was the best money I've ever spent. The boxes upon boxes of old letters from high school were sent back to my Mom's house because I was overwhelmed with making sense of them all.

Is it inevitable, though, that any new footprint in the sand will flood in with water in time? That these periods of peacefulness and thoughtfulness and presence must come to an end? Maybe that comes with retirement? (doubt it...) One of my new years resolutions was to not let work take over the rest of my life. Seems tougher than that resolution to exercise more! Was doing good there for a bit. Tom

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nothing broke!

Well, only one thing broke.  And we are still pretty squared away on sushi plates.

Our shipment arrived and I got it out of hock from the quarantine warehouse.  The customs agent was extremely helpful and asked the forklift driver to find a wire brush and clean some dirt off my Frye knee high black leather engineer boots that are like a child to me.  They even let me keep the vacuum, which was what got us sent to quarantine in the first place.

A few of Tom's Pendleton wool (read "a little itchy so I don't really want them on the couch") blankets didn't fare so well. Our cat appears to have been cuddling in the just before they hit the box.  That was embarrassing.  Agent:  "Was this a pet blanket?"  Me:  "Um. No. Um. Most of my stuff has that much cat hair on it." Then I realized that was going to trigger more box opening so I immediately redacted to "Yes. The cat loved that blanket.  That was the cat's special, special favorite blanket and she rarely went near anything else."

I was given the choice between 1) having them put in a container designed to withstand armageddon and buried by customs agents 2) de-exporting them and 3) having them shipped away for gamma radiation and then returned to me.  Let's not even discuss the prices of each option.  We contemptuously rolled our eyes at dinner that night, wondering how the pillows packed next to the offending blankets were immune to the offending elements found on said blankets. 

It will take a few weeks to find a place for everything, but it's not nearly the mammoth clutter I had feared. Tom had half of it unpacked while I got my hooves filed down and shopped for cupcakes this morning.  Hey, I had to ride in the elevator with the moving guys all day last week, it's only fair. 

We picked up a few knock-down shelves from Ikea, laminated MDF with pre-notched adjustable shelves. It took Tom 7 hours to assemble and hang them. Yikes. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Smells like camping

Here's a link to a story about the fires... I guess the new thing is that the winds changed direction so now rather than blowing out to sea, the smoke is blowing over the city. I looked out my window at work and it was the strangest thing, it was like a sunset in the middle of the day and without the shadows. The sun is red and diffuse and has a ring around it, almost like a cartoon. I decided to go walking around the building at work and as soon as I walked out it was smoky, like pine burning. Quite pleasant actually, it brought back a lot of memories of boy scouts and camping and waking up with the smell of campfire on everything.

During undergrad at New York University around 1994 I was part of the physics department. We would always sit around the front office and chat with the other students and the secretaries. One day (10 May 1994, some googling suggests) there was a big hullabaloo about people going up on the roof of the building. It turns out that we were minutes away from a partial solar eclipse. A bunch of professors grabbed the goggles from their laser labs. Talk about a geek fest- a rare natural event, lots of equipment, world experts and our own private roof where we could just go nuts.

When the peak of the event happened, it was really quite surreal. Everyone was giddy and talkative, but then everyone fell silent. The light I can only describe as like being under water with rays filtering through the clouds. I think I've seen computer graphics effects that give a similar mood, but there's nothing quite like being there in person. The mind reels at what people must've thought of something like that in ancient times.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More fires

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Victoria burning

Many people have been asking if we're safe.  Arsonists set fire about a half hour northeast of Melbourne.  The death count is at 170 people so far, and 740 homes have burned to the ground. 

The news coverage is similar to that of  Sept. 11, many montages of survivors sharing their grisly experiences.  One that stood out was someone loading their children into the car, returning to the house for their baby and coming back to find the car and children smoldering, etc.  

Bush fires are continuing to burn, with over 4000 firefighters now battling it.  Melbourne is likely safe, and we feel insulated in our cement metropolis, though the ashes coating our exterior windows are a constant reminder of the suffering around us. 

You can donate to the Red Cross by clicking here.

Superstar! Reagan paints.

I love the parts where she demands more paint, announces her work is complete moments after beginning it and gets praised for the most basic accomplishments. You can tell whose niece this is.

Dad - Say "Hi Aunt Christine"
Reagan - "Huh Chiss Cuh Teen!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Heat hunting

I swear it was just a week or two ago that I said that posts about the weather were a so-what... But today was quite a day. Melbourne finally broke the all-time all-year maximum temperature record, 115.5 F/46.4 C. 

At the height of the heat at about 3:40pm I grabbed my personal thermometer and ran outside to see if I could find the hottest surface temperature (the "skin" temperature, the surface of the ground as opposed to the air temperature a couple feet off the ground which is what you see above) around our neighborhood. 

In grad school in Arizona we would run out and see if we could fry an egg on the sidewalk on the hottest day of the year. Turns out you can't. Sidewalks aren't that hot, you need something like an motor oil stained manhole cover or the metal hood of a black car. Even then the best you can get is over-easy, a little less than totally runny.  

There's so many cliches about heat... But they were all true, when I walked out into the 5% humidity and 50 km/hr winds, it was like being blasted in the face by a pizza oven wrapped in a sauna nestled in a box of hair dryers... on a tin roof... in hades... with the heat on. Anyhow my thermometer is made to measure liquids so it wasn't quite designed for the task, but here's the best I could do today...

145.5 F/63 C. Hot damn! It was right outside our door actually, in front of a construction site, it's a large thick metal slab out in the street and the hottest temperatures were right in the middle. Later on I started to think I could do even better on some of the tram tracks going down the middle of Toorak street... but then a confused policeman came along and rousted me. 

Later on we had blackouts in our apartment. And Christine remarked that this might be the first time she hasn't felt cold. But the heat was over in like 10 minutes, as you can see when the winds and my first showers came through. 

And here's a gratuitous sunset shot...

Friday, February 6, 2009

it's going to be a fine day today

Here's the latest forecast from the bureau of meteorology. 32 C is about 90 F. I can honestly say that I've never seen a forecast for "fine" before. What does that mean!? Usually you don't try and editorialize in forecasts (e.g. "Streamflows this year are forecast to be the lowest since 1977... Poopers!") because you never know what's good or bad.

When I was in high school I had the nickname "Stoic" and it was used so much that some friends didn't know my real name. I think many people interpret stoicism as meaning that you should be cold or unfeeling because everything is predetermined and you have no control over your life, a lack of free will. Maybe true but the version that appealed to me always was that no matter what happened, you never had enough information to judge whether something was good or bad.

Your house gets wiped out in a flood (bad!) but it causes you to move away and miss the earthquake that happened there a couple months later (good!). You win the election (good) but now you have the worst job in America (bad). You miss the bus (bad?) but now you have some time alone (bad?) to reflect on an idea and come to a breakthrough (good?) that makes you a lot of money (good?) but your new found fame (good?) makes you fall in with a bad sort (bad?) and lose all your old friends (bad?) etc etc.

I think Christine thinks that this outlook prevents me from enjoying life or celebrating achievements. I think instead that it's a good coping mechanism for suffering. Ironic of course that my roman/irish catholic upbringing orients life towards suffering but also has an unambiguous sense of good vs bad.

I guess all I know is that it's going to be a fine day today (in some other city at least).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New dog, sort of

My new charge, Ollie, gettin' squirrelly.

When Tom and I met, I had two dogs: Abbie, an elderly, perfectly-behaved Golden Retriever and Angelina Jolie, a Shihtzu - Lhaso Apso mix who we believe to be possessed by demons.

Angelina, Puppy (April, 2005) and Angelina, Demonic Adult (November, 2006)

When we moved in to Tom's house, that was bigger and closer to town, Angelina was organized, tenacious and effective. She peed on the carpet, scratched up the woodwork, tormented the cats and stressed us out. Way out. At one point, I put her in Pampers, cutting a hole in the back for her curly tail to poke through. When she went outside, I'd take them off, then she'd run back in the house and pee on the carpet before I put a new one on. I hear real babies do a similar trick.

I think I'm really pretty good with training dogs. Tom says that "everyone thinks they are a good driver" though. I also think I'm a good driver. But I know a lot of the techniques and I'm consistent, though every so slightly lazy in sticking to a training schedule. I find puppies very cute, though it's rather monotonous work to teach them anything and infuriating when you don't make progress.

"Sit. Sit. Good. Hooray. Sit. Sit. Sit. Puppy, Sit. Good. Hooray." Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Snore.

We agreed we won't get pets until we buy a house, or at least for a year. I like to torture Tom by showing signs of reneging on the deal..."I know someone who had a baby and needs to rehome their dog. Don't you think we need to help them because it would be good to be better people and make a difference in the world?" etc...This week I did buy a couch without him, sure, but I will draw the line at things with parents. He should get a say in that, right? Watch for a couch blog entry next week when it gets here!

Anyway, our neighbor's little Jack Russell terrier puppy has been terribly lonely while dad's at work, so we are trying a new Playcare with Aunt Christine program. His name is Ollie and I think he's smart.

In a way, I get my dog itch scratched without all the responsibilities that go with having our own, but I also feel like there could be some Angelina atonement in here.

Bit of a bad start that he had an accident on the floor right in front of Tom on our first day, but, other than some minor choking and hysterics, I'm feeling pretty good about leash training.


The official forecast for this saturday is 110F, but there's some unofficial forecasts out there of 119. When I was on the treadmill this morning I saw these pictures of a heat stricken koala on the news. The link has a whole series.

Usually I'm the guy bemoaning that there's some small nation out there were people are getting exploited/slaughtered and all we can get on the news is a story about someone who grew a reaaaally large pumpkin. I do have to admit though it's quite cute.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

music sounds better with you

So our stuff arrives on the boat... today? Can't pick it up for a little while... But one of the things we're most excited about is getting access to our old music collection. We've had the same playlist on our mp3 player for over a month now. For posterity's sake here's the list of what's on my player. My player is a Sansa Express, really not a bad little guy (christine calls him "little red black"). Christine's player ("maureen", a pink Creative Zen V Plus) has a lot of Dido and Feist on it, David Cross comedy, Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas, My Bloody Valentine, The Orb, Plastikman and some other ambient. Tom

00 DavidBowie1.mp3
00 DavidBowie2.mp3
01 Business Time.mp3
01 Emily Sparks - 02 Spring.mp3
01 Jamiroquai - Love Foolosophy.mp3
01 The Cure - Just Like Heaven.mp3
01 andrew bird's bowl of fire - glass figurine.mp3
01 feist - i feel it all.mp3
01 sufjan_stevens-the_avalanche.mp3
02 All My Friends.mp3
02 Beatles - Here Comes the Sun.mp3
02 Mazzy Star - 01 Fade.mp3
02 aimee mann - wise up.mp3
02 andrew bird - a nervous tic motion of the head to the left.mp3
02 radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place.mp3
03 - Steve Earle - Days Aren't Long Enough.mp3
03 Ani DiFranco - Both Hands.mp3
03 Curve - 09 FaƮt Accompli.mp3
03 Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek.mp3
03 Kings of convenience - i'd rather dance with you.mp3
03 Xtc - Dear God.mp3
04 Aimee Mann - One is the Lonliest Number.mp3
04 Ani Difranco - Hell Yeah.mp3
04 Bright Eyes - I Must Belong Somewhere.mp3
04 the polyphonic spree - days like this keep me warm.mp3
04 the_polyphonic_spree-light_to_follow.mp3
04 the_polyphonic_spree-running_away.mp3
05 Bright Eyes - First Day of my Life.mp3
05 the_polyphonic_spree-the_championship.mp3
05NEW come into my world.mp3
06 Blondie - Good Boys (Scissor Sisters' Gyad Byas Myax Ya Mix Extended) .mp3
06 Luscious Jackson - Lady fingers.mp3
06 once ost - falling slowly.mp3
06 polyphonic spree - section 12 (hold me now).mp3
06 the polyphonic spree - the beginning stages of... - part 2 (it's the sun).mp3
07 Blur - Music Is My Radar.mp3
07 Carpenters - Superstar.mp3
07 Missy Elliott- Pass That Dutch.mp3
07 New Order - 03 Temptation.mp3
07 The Cure - 03 The Hanging Garden.mp3
07 john hiatt - have a little faith in me.mp3
07 polyphonic spree - reach for the sun.mp3
07 the_polyphonic_spree-oh_i_feel_fine.mp3
08 Bright Eyes - The Calendar Hung Itself.mp3
08 feist - one two three four.mp3
08 ok go - a million ways to be cruel.mp3
08 polyphonic spree - 02 - section 12 (hold me now).mp3
08a feist - [07] - past in present.mp3
09 - Ann Magnuson - It's a great feeling.mp3
09 Coldplay - The Scientist.mp3
09 Dido - I'm No Angel.mp3
09 Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough.mp3
09 Spiritualized - Feel Like Goin' Home.mp3
09 b-52's - 3. dance this mess around.mp3
09d wonderwall.mp3
10 Carpenters - 19 A Song For You.mp3
10 Damien Rice - The Blowers Daughter.mp3
10 The Cardigans - Carnival.mp3
10 come on! let's boogey to the elf dance!.mp3
10 feist - lonely lonely.mp3
11 Cat Power - 09 Colors And The Kids.mp3
11 Ring Them Bells.mp3
11 Spiritualized - 03 I think I'm in love.mp3
11 Spiritualized - lay it down slow.mp3
11 dido - sand in my shoes.mp3
11 james blunt - goodbye my lover.mp3
11 sting - mad about you.mp3
11a Flight of the Conchords - Think About It.mp3
12 As I Went Out One Morning.mp3
12 John Cale - Hallelujah.mp3
12 Robert Plant - 05 - Song To The Siren (1).mp3
12 Tegan and Sara - I know I know I know.mp3
13 Elton John - Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me.mp3
13 Kate Bush - A Coral Room.mp3
13 Taken By Trees - Sweet Child O' Mine.mp3
13 The Cure - A Forest.mp3
13 Velvet Underground- i found a reason.mp3
13 breathe me [sia].mp3
13 feist - intuition.mp3
13 heartjuststops2005.mp3
13 help me lift you up.mp3
14 Cat Power - i found a reason.mp3
14 Frou Frou - Old Piano.mp3
14 Good Feeling.mp3
14 Kate Bush - 02 Love And Anger.mp3
14 aimee mann - wise up.mp3
14 james blunt - goodbye my lover.mp3
15 Donovan - Jersey Thursday.mp3
15 Townes - Flyin' Shoes.mp3
15 peter gabriel - in your eyes.mp3
16 Cat Power - Sea of Love.mp3
16 Mojave 3 - in love with a view.mp3
16 Sally Fingerett - home is where the heart is.mp3
16 waterboys - this is the sea.mp3
17 Nina Nastasia - bird of cuzco.mp3
17 Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers.mp3
17 Tanita Tikaram - Valentine Heart.mp3
18 Sufjan Stevens - that was the worst christmas ever!.mp3
19 mono - a thousand paper cranes.mp3
20 buffy the vampire slayer - where do we go from here.mp3
97 starstar2007.mp3
99 Hiphopopotamus vs the Rhymenoce.mp3
Jamiroquai - Cosmic Girl.mp3
Macy Gray - Freak Like Me.mp3
Waterboys - The Whole of the Moon.mp3
soundtrack - buffy the vampire slayer - once more, with feeling - 14 - walk through the fire.mp3
soundtrack - buffy the vampire slayer - once more, with feeling - 16 - where do we go from here.mp3
stardust - music sounds better with you (daft punk remix).mp3
Sleater Kinney - 01 Start Together.mp3
Sleater Kinney - 02 Hot Rock.mp3
Sleater Kinney - 02 The Day I Went Away.mp3
Sleater Kinney - 08 Get Up.mp3

./Basic Channel:
01 - Q Loop.mp3
02 - E2E4 Basic Reshape.mp3
03 - Cutisc.mp3
04 - Quadrant (Dub I Edit).mp3
05 - Radiance II (Edit).mp3
06 - Not recix (Edit).mp3
07 - Presence (Edit).mp3
08 - Q1.1 (Edit).mp3
09 - Q1.2 (Edit).mp3
10 - Radiance I (Edit).mp3
11 - Radiance III (Edit).mp3

./Decay Product:
Various artists - decay product 01.mp3
Various artists - decay product 02.mp3
Various artists - decay product 03.mp3
Various artists - decay product 04.mp3
Various artists - decay product 05.mp3
Various artists - decay product 06.mp3
Various artists - decay product 08.mp3
Various artists - decay product 09.mp3
Various artists - decay product 10.mp3

./Spacemen 3 - Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to 1994:
Spacemen 3 live - 01 The Sound of Confusion.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 02 2-35 (version 1).mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 03 Losing Touch With My Mind.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 04 Amen.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 05 That's Just Fine (with vocal).mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 06 Come Down Easy.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 07 Mary Anne.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 08 Feel So Good.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 09 2-35 (feedback version).mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 10 Hey Man.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 11 It's Alright.mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 12 2-35 (version 2).mp3
Spacemen 3 live - 13 Things'll Never Be the Same.mp3

./Spiritualized - Pure phase 1995:
Spiritualized - 01 Medication.mp3
Spiritualized - 02 The Slide Song.mp3
Spiritualized - 03 Electric Phase.mp3
Spiritualized - 04 All Of My Tears.mp3
Spiritualized - 05 These Blues.mp3
Spiritualized - 06 Let It Flow.mp3
Spiritualized - 07 Take Good Care Of It.mp3
Spiritualized - 08 Born Never Asked.mp3
Spiritualized - 09 Electric Mainline.mp3
Spiritualized - 10 Lay Back In The Sun.mp3
Spiritualized - 11 Good Times.mp3
Spiritualized - 12 Pure Phase.mp3
Spiritualized - 13 Spread Your Wings.mp3
Spiritualized - 14 Feel Like Goin' Home.mp3

./Kings of convenience - riot on an empty street:
01 homesick.mp3
02 misread.mp3
03 cayman islands.mp3
04 stay out of trouble.mp3
05 know how.mp3
06 sorry or please.mp3
07 love is no big truth.mp3
08 i'd rather dance with you.mp3
09 live long.mp3
10 surprise ice.mp3
11 gold in the air of summer.mp3
12 the build up.mp3

./sleater kinney - one beat:
01 - one beat.mp3
02 - far_away.mp3
03 - oh_.mp3
04 - the remainder.mp3
05 - light-rail coyote.mp3
06 - step aside.mp3
07 - combat rock.mp3
08 - o2.mp3
09 - prisstina.mp3
11 - hollywood ending.mp3
12 - sympathy.mp3

./sleater-kinney - all hands on the bad one:
sleater-kinney - 01 - the ballad of ladyman.mp3
sleater-kinney - 02 - ironclad.mp3
sleater-kinney - 03 - all hands on the bad one.mp3
sleater-kinney - 04 - youth decay.mp3
sleater-kinney - 05 - you're no rock n' roll fun.mp3
sleater-kinney - 06 - 1 must have.mp3
sleater-kinney - 07 - the professional.mp3
sleater-kinney - 08 - was it a lie.mp3
sleater-kinney - 09 - male model.mp3
sleater-kinney - 10 - leave you behind.mp3
sleater-kinney - 11 - milkshake and honey.mp3
sleater-kinney - 12 - pompeii.mp3
sleater-kinney - 13 - the swimmer.mp3

[Misc techno live sets]
DJ EQ Negative Reinforcement A.mp3
DJ EQ Negative Reinforcement B.mp3
Josh Wink Live at Unwind 1994 Wisconsin.mp3
Max Duley - a tick in the box.mp3
xplizit - Subcon Fused (Summer 2004 Mix).mp3
xplizit - revenge of the neuronerds.mp3

Sunsets, sunsets, sunsets

Tom took this in the middle of the road last night. I was worried for his safety, but then I was like "Oh, oh, get pictures of me in front of it" and I ran out in the street and struck up some poses. (Those didn't turn out.)

I'm trying to remember if we had ridiculously beautiful sunsets every day in Portland? Maybe we're just seeing them now ---

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How we make toast without a toaster

  • No storage space needed for a toaster
  • Don't have to buy a toaster
  • No toaster to clean

  • Takes about 20 minutes to buff the special ceramic cleaner in and clean stove top each time
  • Not sure what is in special ceramic cleaner and how much is safe to ingest
  • We don't really eat toast; novelty likely to wear off soon

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dap me gently.

Dap. Gangsta love. Tater. "Terrorist fist jab" if you're Fox news, referring to Michelle and Barack's knuckle bump after he landed the Democratic party nod. 

Tom and I do it sometimes. Not incessantly; that would be the trappings for, like, a Seinfeld episode.  Super annoying. It's only when things go especially well for us. Not, "I got a giant bag of plums for half price because the market was closing." (Reminding me that we need to have some neighbors in to...um...enjoy some plums.) No, more like the last night of our Caribbean vacation. We put all our winnings on #30 on the way out the door. The wheel spins, the ball drops. 30....(quiet, grateful, happy dap, cash out, go home). (That last part is key, by the way). 

Digging deep, I guess dapping actually is one step shy of explicit gloating.  If you want your dap to be discrete and intimate, you have to make it so. There's another way to do it that's tantamount to double-leaping-round-the-world-high five. And it's really hard for anyone to lay low delivering a dap on network tv when you're running for leader of the free world, for sure.  

Now and then, I notice someone else noticing us dap.  It's not like how they might notice people passing the salt, or shaking hands, or making out in the last row of the train. I mean their expression, when they see it happen, it's notable...poignant.  

It seems like the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" recently got people waxing philosophical about "schadenfreude", or "taking pleasure in other people's pain". Prat falls, reality show tabloids....hey, we're a competitive animal. 

There's this other thing though, maybe our evolving past the primitive fight instinct, it's like an autonomic response to the good fortune of complete strangers.  It's as though people forget their own loneliness, gambling loss, demoralizing job - their own palpable pain, for a brief reprieve while they witness two other people ceremoniously marking a moment.  Like the happy touches them too.

I've tried to start dapping strangers.  Kids are usually up for it. My hands sweat a lot, so connecting on a closed fist level? Perfect.  There are a lot of people out there who haven't been dapped for a long time, many, ever.  Just that innocuous bit of flesh to flesh contact might nourish someone's soul without us realizing that they were even starving.  

I've always thought that Tom and I were equal partners in the dap. That we both initiate dapping about equally, though, my being somewhat prone to hyperbole, it's probably more like 60%/40%. Would be interesting to hear Tom's numbers (cough***90%/10%,***cough).  But I love that appreciates a well-timed, situation-appropriate dap with me. It makes me feel the opposite of alone in the world, a good feeling when you're down, but even better when you're up. 

So last week, some great windfall was bestowed upon us (I think it had to do with adopting a very beat up but entirely free mountain bike), so I go in for the dap.  And Tom's face looks, well, not good. Concerned.  Like not-dap-happy. 

Him:  "Where's your ring?"
Me:  "My ring? What ring?" 
Him:  "Your wedding ring?"
Me:  "Here? It's right here, Hon." 

I hold up my left hand. Confused.  I usually don't wear rings, just my wedding ring on my left hand. Tom's mom gave us her beautiful classy-but-not-trashy-sized solitaire stone and we designed a cathedral style setting for it.  I liked that the stone is somewhat raised to store cake in the protective basket. It true. There is usually some kind of dessert item ground into my wedding ring.  Yummy.

Him: "Oh."
Me:  "Huh?"
Him: "Oh. Well. It's just that whenever you dap me, it always hurts a LOT. I'm terrified of dapping you. Your wedding ring kind of works like a jousting lance that chunks skin out of my knuckles. But you used your other hand and that was like the first time you dapped me that it didn't draw blood."
Me: "Oh."

Another humbling marriage eye opener. Intent/result, perception/reality, pain/joy ...  they can get a little rolled together . Instead dapping back, this time I got some help unfurling them all.  I liked that too. 

Go ahead, decide if you're a dapper. I think it would be cool if more people were, so long as they dap for the right reasons. 

I am, and, going forward, a gentler dapper at that.


Hooray for Bollywood (dancing)

Last night we went on a picnic and concert with Beth and Dave Ebert in a downtown park. 

Before the world-drumming bit, they had a Bollywood dance lesson.  All that time in India and we didn't learn to shake or shimmy our, um, big old bollys.  As it turns out, Tom has this Indian dancer, deep inside, that was just waiting for a park full of a few thousand people to set it free. 

So far all we know is "Pulp fiction - Scarecrow - Do The Laundry - Peg it Up - Change the Lightbulb and Pet the Dog".  They taught "Warrior" while I was fetching the camera.  Strangely, I can only "Warrior" in one direction.  I can't make a circle in the air with my left hand and point with my right hand at the same time.  Just attempting this nearly makes me fall down in confusion (humiliation?). Turns out a lot of other people have the same problem.  I wonder if my left arm is sad that it's essentially just a vestigial limb.  

Speaking of neglect, I'm still holding out for a full surgical body lift in lieu of engaging in any kind of regular exercise.  Tom seems to think that lifting weights might be first line of offense to tone up my arms.  I donno....I think the flapping wings here add a whole 'nother dimension to the dance.

St kilda pier and the ocean

Tonight after work we decided to go down to the beach so we went down to the St Kilda pier/ Esplanade. We were hoping to watch the sunset but it was too cloudy. There were a couple people swimming, in their clothes no less, it almost seemed like they weren't planning on getting in the water when they left for the beach. Lots of fishermen, we saw one something-or-other flopping around on the dock while the new owners seemed vaguely confused about what the next step was now that they got it out of the water. 

When we walked out on the pier the wind was strong and towards the direction of the waves. The waves were fast moving but didn't have any whitecaps. It was like a speed walker just at the limit of having to break into a trot. Purposeful, determined concentration. 

Back when I was in high school, a now long-gone best friend of mine would give me mantras to concentrate on, just roll them over in my head or write them down until I got what they meant. One was "opening your stove" (think about it, see if you can get it). Another was "the ocean is deeper than the grave". I think it meant that if you ever feel like you can't wait for it to be over (this was as an awkward teenager so you know the context), just think of how much there is out there that you'll never get to experience, that you'd be missing out on. The ocean is nearly infinite in its vastness. Death is just a period at the end of a sentence. 

Almost unrelated but I'm reading another book from Beth Ebert's library, The Life of Pi. It's great, I recommend it without reservation so far. I'd say more but I hate spoilers. In the book though they talk about why people move. Here's a great passage

"Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they've known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this mount everest of formalities that makes you feel like a beggar? Why enter this jungle of foreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult? 

The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life....

People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else" 

p.s. At the end of the pier we saw a sign about the native wildlife. Penguins in the middle of the city, who would have thought! We saw two little fatties jumping from rock to rock about 10 feet away. Sorry no pictures, the flash is terrible on their eyes. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kim, Cam and Tim Tams

These are friends from Portland, Kimberly and Cam.  They are hysterical writers, kind to animals and nascent restaurant reviewers alike, foodies and fashion divas.  Here they are at a rockin' event for the awesome elite earlier this week. 

This is a "biscuit" that Australians bite the ends off of and slurp coffee through before devouring the cookie in one giant messy bite.

I wish they were here. 
It would do Dr. Seuss proud to hear of a Kim Cam Tim Tam Slam.