knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Something see, something do

Wednesday, October 26
I have that feeling. You know, the one where you haven't slept quite as much as you should over the last few days, and you've been stressed and busy, so you've been tearing through packs of Camel Lights at about one every two to three hours; and even though you're not exactly tired like lay-down-and-go-to-sleep tired, you're still definitely tired because you feel like you're watching everything your body does from a little port-hole inside your own head?

I feel slightly monkeyed with. I think someone may have sabotaged my spellchecker because every other word I spell looks completely new. Not fresh and improved new. What the hell is this thing new. I want this thing to tell me "refer" is incorrect. It's actually "reefurr." Now that looks correct.

Insert segue here.

My best friend is now a father. His wife finally ended a torturous 18-hour labor last night by politely popping out a beautiful girl. I was there.

Her name is Amelia. The new one, that is. I played uno with her mother and walked a thousand and one laps around the maternity ward at four in the morning with her mother, waiting for her to get out here. She will likely keep her father from wandering about the city in a tipsy rage with me as often. I will not be permitted to smoke around her. She will be an expensive little proposition, as evidenced by the dozens and dozens of dollars I have personally spent on the bugger before she was even born.

I have every right in the world to be angry with this small person. But, of course, I am not. I am not even slightly ashamed to say that she might be the most amazing thing I have ever seen, and that I am totally in love with her. Gay, I know. Take heart - she will grow up to think as little of me as you do.

So, now I have to find something to do. I imagine it will involve sleeping. If not, I may go read some more of a couple of blogs I've been enjoying recently.

Still waiting

Wednesday, October 19
So, yesterday, I finally found a heating and air company that offers financing for electric heat pump installations. Rather, they offer it on one line of their heat pumps. The cheap one, natch.

I was still pretty excited about it. Face it, I don't have many (read: any other at all) options, and I'll take what I can get.

They're sending out a guy to do an estimate. I think they have to price the whole thing before I can apply for the financing. They need to know up front if the doozle-swaffer* is going to need replacing as well.

So this guy...he's supposed to give me a call when he's on his way to my house. You know, this afternoon. It's 3:30 now. And what really sucks is that I can't call these people and be all horked off at them because I really need them to loan me the money to buy their thingamahickey.

Damn it.



*Thank you, Chris.

Space Philler

George Saunders, the esteemed pencil-twitcher behind CivalWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia has a new book, released about 6 weeks ago, called The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. Also, since the glossy printed world of literary magazines is zooming collectively toward the toilet, he's written an essay (nay, an exclusive essay) for Amazon. It's about his writing process in general, and this new book in particular.
What I hope for this book is simply that it entertains, using the old fashioned story-telling virtues: surprising form, charged language, humor, some truth there amid the wackiness. I hope this alternate world flares up in the reader's mind for a time, and thereafter reappears every now and then, like a vivid dream the reader once had, or, you know, a nightmare, of which he or she is oddly fond.

And if that doesn't interest you, you might want to schedule an appointment with your proctologist.

I used to think I felt stupid

Tuesday, October 18
The house I bought last year has one of those split HVAC systems - gas furnace under the house and um...non-gas air conditioning thing outside. And they are both past warranty, and both programmed to die as soon as possible after their warranties expire. Awesome.

This summer, we bought a window AC unit for our bedroom. It was great. I was never at home except for sleeping anyway, and I kept that mutha cranked down at about 55° through July and August. And since the POS outside the house was about as efficient as the Hindenburg, my electric bill was cut in about half. Which was sweet.

But now it's getting cold, and the scary gas furnace under the house is refusing to work correctly. Aside from the freakiness inherent in having combustible fumes piped into my abode, it smells strange, and its efficiency makes the AC look like a Prius.

So I need a new system. I know nothing about these things. Computer? Sure, I can understand the specs. Digital camera? I'm good. Used cars? Not my strong suit, but I'm not an idiot. HVAC? How about I call someone? My local utility company wants to help me, they say. Financing. Something or other about low rates and no down payment. Blah-bliggity-blah-blah. Apparently I don't qualify because I have carried a balance on my account once in the last six months. You know, because I was tearing through a Rolls-Royce payment a month in utility bills and I might have had a little trouble keeping up that ONE TIME. ISN'T THIS WHY I NEED A FUCKING HEAT PUMP IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU HEARTLESS BASTARDS?

So I start calling local contractors. Do you install heat pumps? Do you offer financing for residential installations? No, I am not joking.

It's not that I need that financing, of course. I just like the way $5000 looks sitting in my savings account, and I'd hate to disturb it. Look how cute it is (I think it's asleep...shhh).

How does anyone else pay for these things? Seriously. Is there some secret bank that finances the random shit that happens when you own a house? What the hell am I going to do if something else dies (water heater...I'm calling it now. You heard it here first)?

The Wizard of Westwood

Friday, October 14
Happy Birthday, coach.

What I can't get out of my head right now.

About a week ago, I was invited to a potluck at my friend Francisco's house. It was last night. I told him I couldn't be there by 7, the planned start time, but that I would show up around 8:30 or so. And I would have beer.

So, when I arrived, not only was there not a party going on, but Francisco wasn't even there. Gone to a movie. Salvadoran bastard.

Instead, there were two girls on his porch and one of his roommates inside the house, queuing up a playlist. I did not know any of them. Lo and behold, they were about to eat some supper they made for the three of them. And eat it on the porch, no less. Good light, cool breeze, warm candles, and a couple bottles of wine. And they told me and my beer to join them. What a lovely meal it was.

They are vegans, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the grub, but it was amazing - curried potatoes, sticky rice, Indian bread (sweet and savory: uh-mazing), peanut sauce, and a pear crisp.

That said, I'm totally craving bacon today. But, when am I not?

Little by little (for free)

Harvey Danger is pretty good band from the northwest, and they have had their most recent album out for a month now. Also, they've made it freely available as mp3s. No strings, no catches. And this isn't some oversight or misjudgment on their part. They actually have a pretty lengthy explanation of why they're doing it:
...This is by no means a manifesto. We don'?t pretend to be the first band to spin a variation of the shareware distribution model. We love record labels and record stores. We buy lots of CDs and are committed to supporting independent music. We're not a bunch of fake Marxists. We'?re just trying to be smart capitalists so we can sustain our lives as musicians. This is an experiment. We'?ll let you know how it goes...

Not a Santa Claus complex. Just smart guys trying to get more people to listen to their music.

For it's a jolly good office suite

OpenOffice, my life-saving bundle of free and open software is five years old today.

Look how cute it is. They just grow up so fast. (sniff)

Just a thing

Wednesday, October 12

Sweet, knowing a scratch of German has finally paid off. Sort of. Apple's online store is down right now for "updates" (see also: new iPod hottness) and their hold screen is a list of phone numbers for their international sales offices. Each country is listed with an icon of their flag. Except that "Österreich" is German for Austria, not Australia, which is the flag next to it.

This would not have a prayer of being funny to anyone if was not for Dumb and Dumber.

Note to self

While this bloggish thing may indicate otherwise, I aspire to being a writer. Writerdom, let's call it. You know, the gig where I earn a living from spouting opinions and making shit up. I intend to finish a graduate degree in writing somewhere, debatable as the value of said programs may be, and I want to do it soon. So, I wrote myself a note about it in May, just as an end-of-semester reminder to keep chugging along:
I should be able to submit at least one story and three poems every month. Getting into the MFA programs I want is not possible unless I do this. If I don’t get into one of my top choices, I won’t get enough financial aid. If I don’t get enough financial aid, I can’t go. If I don’t go anywhere, I’m stuck entering data, worrying about dressing professionally, and counting annual leave hours for the rest of my life.

Not submitting stories now = Life in Hell.

Stories and poems submitted since May = Zero. Yeah, I'm disappointing to me too.

Happy Birthday

Friday, October 7
Hey, Palmer. Happy birthday, man. Since you won't see this because you're driving today, and since it's technically your birthday now, I guess it's ok if you know that I got you another booster deck for what is possibly the most childishly addictive game I have ever played.

Can't wait to see you.

Forgot to get Palmer something for his birthday? It's ok. All he ever wanted was for you to look at the pictures.

If you can't say nuthin nice

The Metro Pulse, not well known for equivocation, lays down just exactly what they think of Stacey Campfield in an editorial this week. Includes suck gems as:
Campfield might find it much easier to earn a place on the Idiot Caucus. His credentials would not be questioned.

Thanks, Metro Pulse. Nice burn. Good to know that Campfield is officially a dookie-head now.

Feelin' Groovy

Tuesday, October 4
I went out to dinner with some friends for my friend Julie's birthday on Saturday night. Her birthday (pronounced: BERFDAY!) was actually Wednesday, but that doesn't matter. The thing you need to understand is that birthday, for Julie, is a season. Like Spring, only longer. With more drinking. We get along well.

We went to Pasta Trio, which might be the best place to eat in Knoxville. Possibly. I'm not committing here.

Anyway, after a long and expensive dinner (someone else paid - w00t!) we headed from there to the Corner Lounge, which is classy as hell, in case you didn't know. They have Miller Light AND High Life. Which is like...50% of the beer in the whole world. They should advertise that more, I think.

There was music. The band was The Nairobi Trio, who were pretty good, actually, though I'm pretty sure I could whip them in an arm wrestling match. Which I may or amy not have challenged them to. Things got fuzzy.

One thing I remember distinctly is that the lead singer started the second set with some acoustic stuff. You know, sitting-on-a-stool-at-the-front-of-the-stage kind of stuff. He played Simon and Garfunkel. I became...how to say this...aroused.

You should know this. When I was in college (version 1.0 - the JBC years), I had S&G's greatest hits CD. I played the hell out of it. It's the first CD I ever bought. I knew (and still pretty much do) every damn note, beat, break, and lyric on the whole album. I used to listen to it in a car with my friend Homer, who also had the album, only on tape. His tape player was a POS, so as we listened, the speakers would cut out for a minute or two, and then come back on - the tape having never stopped playing. Once, the speakers quit working for a full song and a half, and when we hit a bump and they came back on, we were on key and at exactly the right lyric. If I had a superpower, it would have something to do with remembering the words to the songs on this album.

So when Roger from The Nairobi Trio began singing "America," I had no choice but to sing it as well. Only louder. Because my other superpower, if I had two, would be incredible drunken volume.

I was moved. I shed a tear. I demanded more. I think people left because of me. Try not to be jealous.

Karma

My wife and I have been tighty-budgety for a few months now. She's in school full-time and only working part-time, which leaves me as the primary earner (though just barely). While this is totally sweet for my ego (I'm an old school chauvinist), it sort of sucks for the acquisition of stuff and the general enjoyment of subscription-based services - my two greatest hobbies, not to mention skills. To that end, we *sacrificed* and went down to the networks-plus-a-handful cable package.

But things are different now. No, we don't have more money, but the MLB playoffs begin today, and much of the AL & NLDS coverage is on ESPN, plus there's all that Baseball Tonight worthlessness that I'm so addicted to I get the shakes whenever I hear Harold Reynolds' voice. It's true.

So, knowing it's wrong because I have better things to do with my money, and because I'm basically using it as a 30-day pay-per-view, I called the cable company today to have my subscription bumped up. 55 more channels, 35 more dollars.

And when this is through, I discover that the baseball I crave will be broadcast on Fox by the time Comcast gets to my house.

Oh well, there's always HGTV. And Lifetime.

Ok, someone shoot me in the face.

flickry

Sweet. I have recent photos from my flickr contacts as a news module on my.yahoo.com. And now I can set it as a slideshow gallery that displays in the narrow column on the right.

If this is cool to you, punch yourself for being lamely similar to me.