Tuesday, December 30, 2003

There's a break in the rain this morning. That's good news because I need to get back into my walking routine. The holidays are a little rough on the waistline, but my wife and I joke about the fact that we're hibernating for the winter. Most of what we're storing is beer and wine, however. We both have quite a tolerance for it, I just hope our livers can forgive and forget come next year.

Today I find myself in that weird zone between bored and unmotivated. I have things I could be working on in the work downtime but I just don't feel like doing it. Speficially, there is a horn arrangement I could be playing around with for this song that we're doing, but I haven't got the motivation for that. I guess maybe part of the reason is not to become too committed to any more parts for this thing as the majority of my work thus far has been rejected. I'm getting to the point in my musical career where I am losing interest in being micromanaged, regardless of the fact that the end result of my being micromanaged might be far grander that what I could accomplish on my own. Am I making sense? I feel like I need to step out of the shadow of our fearless leader. But that will come soon enough. There's plenty to enjoy in the interim.

On that note, I applied for a job that would most definitely fuse my abilities at work with my abilities as a musician and home recording enthusiast. When I found out about the job I actually took the time and found the balls to network and we'll see if it works. I have hope that it will, but it's risky in that I will be touring for upwards of two months for the remainder of the year. The job would have to be tolerant of that or it won't work.

And so the year is just about up. Ah, I'll save that one for tomorrow...



Monday, December 29, 2003

As far as weather goes, this is a different story. As a native of Wisconsin, I've seen a lot of snow. But the most snow I've ever seen in my life was the time I visited Tahoe in March. The night before, we had put out the wiper blades...pointing straight out away from the car so they wouldn't freeze. The next morning there was so much snow that even the wiper blades pointing straight out were covered completely.

There are flash flood warnings in Napa county. But those would likely be in valley areas. In any case, it is pretty windy and rainy out there. But I'm not so worried about the weather itself as I am about the other drivers.
Another "major storm" has hit the Bay Area. That means it's raining continuously, to all potential readers in other parts of the country where the weather is usually way worse. I'm only upset about this because I can't go on my daily lunchtime walk and the traffic on the bridge going home in a few hours will be heavy, due to some retard who will get into a fender bender because he doesn't know how to drive in the rain. Instant moron, just add water. That is my motto for California drivers.

The rain is only a real problem for people stupid enough to build houses on the side of a steep hill. There are mudslides to contend with in these conditions. And during the summer and fall months? Fires. Then of course there are earthquakes. For those of us who live in cities like SF or Oakland and don't venture up into the hills, the rain only serves as a cleaning agent to wash away the piss on the sidewalks.

I'm about halfway through a book I bought on my XMas shopping day: The Story of English, by Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil and William Cran. I'm not much of a fiction or literature reader these days, it's mostly non-fiction like biographies or historical subjects. This book basically tells the whole story, from Old English through all of its mutations to the present day. I like the approach it takes: language is not immovable.

The book was mainly written in the eighties, before the maturation of hip-hop into a mainstream art form, but I would use the arguments in this book to argue that someone like Eminem is also good for the language, and that hip hop is the new poetry. The subject matter is often shallow (how many different ways can you write about bling bling and how much money you make?), but as form it is pretty sophisticated.

When I was younger, I thought to myself that my generation would be different, that I would not feel a "generation gap" with kids when I got older. I was wrong, of course. Now I fully expect my kids to be into things that I find foul, disgusting and of no value. I just don't quite know what that will be yet. But I have a feeling that whatever it is will make Eminem in his more graphic lyrical moments look like an old mother hen.

And with the aid of this book, I realize all of this is okay because it is the law of things. Look no further than comparing old english to middle english to modern english and you will wonder how we got there. It was all a part of conquest and assimilation, of course. Nowadays, that conquest is somewhat bloodless, but it is still a battle. I wonder how archaic what I am writing will look in about twenty years? I guess that's partly why I write.
I'm still not sure how Seattle would have had the advantage over Green Bay in the supposed "strength of schedule" matchup. I mean, we beat them head to head. But all of that is for nought after the ViQUEENS choked big time.

How 'bout them Cardinals!

So now we get to play Seattle at home next Sunday for the playoffs. I don't want to jinx it, but I have to believe we have good momentum going into the postseason, whereas the Rams are in disarray. The Cowboys, Seahawks and Panthers are all beatable. The only team I worry about is Philly. Even there, we almost beat 'em in the regular season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Well, it's that time of the year again. Now to pause for some optimism: In two months from now, my wife and I will have new jobs and we will be moving into a new apartment. In two years, we will halve our revolving debt and our first child will be about to begin walking. In five years, we will own our own house and our second child will be walking. In the position I will start next year, in those five years I will have worked up the ranks to the point where I have become adept at digital editing and my solo record will be released amidst a sea of nostalgia for the band I am currently about to retire from, and this will provide a little extra income and a gig every once in a while. My best friend, the one I moved out to SF from Wisconsin with almost eleven years ago now, will have his first Broadway play debut in five years, and looking back on his move to Boston in the summer of 2004, he will regard this as the best move he has ever made. My soon to be former bandmates will remain in touch and have musical careers of their own, and we will release our records through our own collective, borrowing ideas from each other often. I will build a tasteful project studio in my new house and will use it to help out in those endeavors. In addition, my book I am beginning to write now on my humble musical life so far will become a cult classic, nudging books like "Fargo Rock City," and "Our Band Could Be Your Life" gently out of the way.

Hope is a wonderful thing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. And Go Pack!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Interesting article on Dean today. It's what I've been thinking all along, namely this:

"For many Dean supporters, as important as the war is as an issue, it has always been equally significant as a measure of Dean's character. His willingness to take what seemed to be a risky position politically and stick to it because he believed in it was such a relief after years of Gore/Kerry-like political calculation that it almost doesn't matter if the issue disappears."

I am home today, on advice from my mental health specialist that resides in my own head. After everyone else seemed to take a sick day yesterday, I thought I would respond in kind. More importantly, the Packers blew out the Raiders last night (much to the chagrin of my wife and our season-tickets-at-the-40-yard-line hosts, who invited us to the game). Favre had an inspired game. His father died of a heart attack on Sunday, but there was never any doubt that he would play. As he put it, that is what his dad would have wanted. Irving Favre was his coach in high school, so they both have lived and breathed football.

Seeing that game in person made me realize how difficult and amazing some of those plays were. Even on TV they looked spectacular, but in person I was just in awe witnessing some of those long completions. In some respects I also felt a little sad, as I realized that it will probably be the last time I see Favre play in person. Ten years ago I saw Favre for the first time in a game at Lambeau field, also against the Raiders. The Pack beat 'em 28-0 and because of that game they returned to the playoffs for the first time in a non-strike season since 1972! Game day temperature? Zero degrees farenheit without windchill factored in. We kept a grill going by the tailgate just to keep the cans of beer from freezing. That game was also the game that LeRoy Butler invented the "Lambeau Leap," which was then adopted and made more famous by Robert Brooks in later seasons.

Monday, December 22, 2003

The flap about Dean saying we are not safer with the capture of Saddam is much ado about nothing. It is simply a matter of horse race politics and in a month it will be irrelevant. In fact, in light of raising the terror color to orange again, and continued attacks in Iraq I would argue that the issue is already dead, as the daily kos correctly points out. In campaigns sometimes we get caught up so much in the latest news or flap or comment, that we forget the bigger picture. After seeing Dean on C-Span last week, I am more than convinced that he can beat Bush. Once people see Dean, they will realize that, though he is frank and not touchy feely, by no means is he an angry guy up there. He tells it to you straight with no bullshit. He speaks intelligently and is quick on his feet. He is prone to overreaching once in a while, but Bush will fuck up worse in the upcoming campaign. People don't necessarily prefer the loveable buffoon, sometimes all it takes is for someone to look you in the eye and shake your hand with a firm grip and tell it like it is. I'm telling you, the election parallel is not '72 or '84, but '48 (except that Truman was the incumbent). Mark my words, Dean will win in '04 unless Bush catches Osama the day before the election.
Going to the Packers/Raiders game this evening. I am a Packer fan and I'm going to the black hole. My wife is a Raiders fan and she's coming along. I'm probably going to puss out and wear an A's cap instead of a Packer one. Same colors, but I really don't want to get sucker punched by an angry Raiders fan after they lose another one.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Another thought occurred to me about this Saudi Arabia thing that I posted yesterday. I am reminded of an email I received from a roommate (at the time) of mine in the summer of 2002. It was from his dad, who was stationed in Afghanistan at the time. He forwarded it to my roommate with the preface "I'm not sure why this isn't classified, but here you go" and it basically told him that he might be restationed to Iraq in November of 2002. It took about two months for word to get around, and by then we were mobilizing to go over there. The connection? It looks like our perpetual state of war is about to shift fronts again.
Has anyone else noticed how people in the press like to complain about parity in the NFL in one breath and the divide between haves and have-not's in baseball in the other? Just what do you WANT, people?

Seriously, what does this say? It says that people in the press are awfully cynical. It must be nice to get paid to sharpen one's eloquence in tearing things down while not having to offer an alternative in it's place. That, as they say, is not their department. And since we're all information hounds, the whole cynicism begins to permeate our subconscious. This is one of the reasons why I've been looking for alternative sources for my information. I'm on a constant search.

Here's another gripe of mine: Government is bad and inefficient always, but private business is lean, mean and efficient. That's a load of crap. How much money gets wasted every year by companies who send Christmas cards to other companies that nobody cares to read? One small example, to be sure. And here I am sitting on my ass...

I admit I too am cynical. I'm working on it. Once I find out whether or not I'm going to get evicted from an owner move in for the third time in four years, whether or not my company decides to change the nameplates on the doors in the offices that were just bought out by its competitor and my wife gets the job she just interviewed for, I'm going to allow myself to wallow in the negative for the time being. Sure, things will work out, but I'm pissed when I'm powerless and forced to just sit and wait.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Well, I think I have the format the way I want it for now. I spent a good part of the day tinkering with the template. It's still a tad dull but I am not an artist. Where do I go from here? I guess I could start by getting more involved and writing other people. I need to massage that part my brain a little bit more as I have been dormant in the communication department.

So what of the title, "Ham Radio Central?" It is my slang term for people who get mired into the details of something of little consequence. It's origins can be traced to my days as a Customer Care Representative for Cellular One in the mid 90s. Occasionally some know-it-all would call in and complain about why he's getting dropped calls from the basement of his house. He would then instruct me that I was incorrect to assert that the problem was due to being in the basement, that he was a certified ham radio operator and obviously knew more about wireless technology than I did. He would then proceed to pepper his complaint with all sorts of useless technical jargon in hopes that he would impress me into giving him a credit for the dropped call.

I began applying this term in the recording studio towards anyone who was exceedingly nitpicky. That squeak you hear on the guitar string in track 20 at 2:14 on the counter is the sound of a human being playing the guitar. Let's move on, shall we?

So why am I applying the term to myself on my own website? That's a good question. I hadn't put too much thought into that. Let's just call it my mission to promote the term "ham radio" worldwide in hopes that it some day makes it into the dictionary as a slang term for the obsessive-compulsive.

Let's also say that it fits nicely into my belief that writing is a form of exorcism. If there is something seething inside of me, I like to write about it so that I can look at it as words on a page, which makes me feel better. I have to look at my crude form of expression to realize how trivial my anxiety sometimes is. We will call that ham radio speak. There you have it. Did I pass?