time, money and blogging

laundry time again. that stuff piles up like sawdust at a sawmill. (mental note, lose the corny similies) i never seem to be able to catch up. and it sucks to not have a washer and dryer in my apartment. a few years ago now i made a rule for myself that i would never again live in a place that didn't have a dishwasher. i think i'm getting to the point now that i'm going to have add a rule about always having in suite laundry. the convenience of being able to do laundry without having to trek up and down the stairs and across the parking lot to the laundry room is becoming a much bigger issue to me than the dollar difference to get a nicer apartment.

it's true proof that time really is money. as you get more money you find yourself paying for tons of things that you wouldn't have thought to spend money on if you were broke. you pay for a car wash rather than do it yourself with the garden hose, you get a housekeeper, you eat out when you don't feel like cooking. you spend that money at least partly because it allows you to do other things that you wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. think back to the turn of the last century, when labor saving devices were the washboard and ringer. today i'm bitching about having to walk 100 feet and drop my clothes and some coins in a machine, then come back in half an hour to get them out. but the simple fact is that i have disposable income, and if i choose to spend it in a way that maximizes the daily convenience in my life that has a tangible benefit to me - more "free" time. it might be that the extra time actually gets sucked up into longer work hours, or more time doing other chores that currently have to wait but the effect is the same. i pay money and i get time in return, to do with what i want.

thing is though that laundry wait time is typically time i spend writing in my blog, so less time on laundry means less writing. of course if all i have to write about is laundry maybe that's not such a bad thing.


the bitter pill

played basketball in my league tonight, we lost by 2 in double overtime. i had a shot at the end of the first overtime that clanged off the rim, and missed an opportunity to make a shot or get fouled at the end of the second overtime. that's a hard pill to swallow. if i make either one of those shots the game ends differently. the worst part of it is not that we lost but the guilt of letting my teammates down. my objective opinion is that there are two or three other guys on my team that would be much better options for a last second shot with the game on the line, and that just adds to the guilt. i want very much to be the dependable guy that can make those clutch shots, but if you keep taking them and keep missing your teammates lose confidence in you in that situation. it's a blow to your own confidence as well and confidence is vital in that situation. if you can't see yourself hitting that shot, you'll never do it.

confidence is a self-fulfilling prophesy. it is a feedback loop, success breeds confidence and confidence engenders success. kids often brim with self-confidence to the point of absurdity because they haven't tasted failure. if you're a success at everything you've tried so far, you have reason to believe that you'll be successful at things you haven't. problem is that success isn't based solely on skill or ability, there is a large luck component. eventually everyone runs out of luck (or into bad luck) and finds failure. even that's a bit of gray area though because you'll find that people with high confidence have more good luck than people with low confidence, so which begets which? in any event, the true test of a person is how they handle their failures. some people become afraid of failure and stop reaching for things that open up the possibility of failing. some people are blessed with a curious disconnection from reality and either don't realize they've failed, or come up with a list of excuses that let them off the hook. and some people take it in stride, learn from it and come out the better for it. the first response falls under classic behavioral psychology - do something, fail, learn not to do that thing. the second response might fall under abnormal psych - do something, forget what happened, hear voices in your head, do the exact same thing again and expect a different result. the third response falls under the self-help section of borders - so something, fail, read deepak chopra and reach a zen state of existence. i think it's rare to find someone that would fit entirely into one category so i guess that a more likely hyposthesis is everyone has a little of all three, in varying degrees.

i used to have a bunch of the middle guy in me, when things went wrong i would blame a lot of things outside myself. i realize now that everybody has more or less the same stimuli, it's just that successful people are able to cope better and overcome non-optimal conditions, and that's where the painful part comes in. if you live a narrow life and stick to the things you do well you may have more success but you're doomed to a much smaller sphere of experience. if you lay the blame elseware you can carry on blissfully unaware of your own shortcomings, but you're doomed to repeat your mistakes. if you take full responsibility for your failings you're doomed to find that you have a crapload of work to do to get to where you want to be, or worse, realize that where you want to be is a highly improbable goal. and how you deal with that is the real test.

i could make a red pill, blue pill matrix reference here but i won't because i think it's geeky.


this is going to get preachy

this weekend ferrari held a big track event at the sears point raceway, just a 20 minute drive away. rob somehow got targeted with free tickets to the maserati test drive event, which was happening at the same time (maserati and ferrari are both directly controlled by the fiat company). i somehow weaseled my way into the second ticket, so sunday we drove out to the track to take a high class italian sports car for a spin. the drive was not that exciting, just a quick jaunt down the highway and back. the car was very posh and handled well, but i'm not sure that if was going to spend 85k on a car it would be that one. i made sure to grab a free maserati hat though, just in case.

two things were surreal about the trip. the first was walking though a parking lot of ferraris. i've never seen that many 200k cars in one place.

the second was a wife-beater-wearing red neck tailgating from his pickup, proudly flying a confederate flag. wtf? i think seeing that at a nascar track in south carolina is sadly inevitable, but what is it about an italian luxury sports car exhibition in marin county that would attract someone with that little class? it pissed me off so much that it spoiled an otherwise very nice day. hell, i'm getting irritated just writing about it. given the history of that flag and what it has stood for you can not make a case for flying it without being a complete bigot. it is tainted beyond remedy.

i had a bunch more stuff i was going to write but it just got overbearing. suffice it to say that i'm not a fan of "southern pride" and let's leave it at that.


don't be that guy

so today i was shopping for a new pair of basketball shoes at sportsmart and there was a huge blow out sale on roller blades. good top of the line roller blades for under $100. apparently roller blades don't sell anymore because roller blading is now passé. when did that happen? is it just a california thing?

i guess it's not that surprising. roller blading was just the second coming of roller skating, a fad that suffered the same demise. i still remember when the cool kids had their birthday parties at the roller rink, lit by a disco ball with a dj spinning the xanadu soundtrack. roller skating was in decline back then but there were still some die hard adults who couldn't give it up even though the average age at the rink had dropped from 20 to 12. when you look pathetic to a 9 year old you know there can't be any redeeming qualities worth holding on to.

and now i run the risk of suffering the same fate because i nabbed me a sweet pair of roller blades, for cheap! hey, it's good exercise and at least i'm not going to be wearing a silk shirt and gold plated chains. while i'm blading...


a tale of woe

i violated a rule of mine yesterday, i went back to the mall to get a haircut. i know it's bad for you, but they're so close and convenient. i thought maybe if i tried the other hair salon they might be better than the first one. i should have seen it coming, the warning signs were there.

"do you want a fade?" the middle-aged female stylist asked, "because i'm not good at those."

i felt the tickle of apprehension on the back of my neck but plowed on, full speed ahead and damn the clippers. "no", i replied, "just a number 2 on the sides and back and trim the top." in retrospect i think we were talking about the same thing.

"oh, okay then" she said, relieved, and walked me back to the sinks for a wash. she was an average looking woman, probably in her late 40s, dressed in a white sweater and an unflattering haircut and she moved with the slow deliberateness of a 3-toed sloth. back at her station i sat under the plastic cape and watched as she reached into a dusty gym bag to pull out an electric clipper, dutifully clip a number 2 guard to it and start into my mop.

i could tell that she was not merely being modest in her assessment of her skills by the clumsy way that she held her left hand straight up in the air as she worked and stabbed at my head with her right like a novice fencer. "a little higher" i offered, when she had gone around my head and looked ready to quit the clipper. she nodded and went back around the opposite way, little clumps of salt and pepper hair falling to my shoulders as she went. the result was a harsh jagged line half way up my head separating the damp, shaggy locks on top from the trimmed hair below.

as she put down the clippers and pulled out her scissors, i showed her how much to cut off the top. "about here" i stated, pinching my bangs between my fingers.

"about an inch then" she replied, and started delicately cutting. her scissors sliced easily through my hair, leaving clean straight lines. "i just got them sharpened" she announced. she worked her way from the front to the back, then set her sights on the fault line she had created earlier. it quickly became clear that there were issues to be dealt with. i sat in silence as she went over the same parts of my head again and again with thinning shears, slowly chiseling away at the obvious imperfections left by the clipper. gradually the peaks and valleys began to flatten, as much from erosion as her efforts.

an hour after it began the ordeal was finally over. i bought a small container of pomade on my way out but couldn't bring myself to leave without a small tip. it could have been worse. for all her ineptitude at least she tried, and i can't blame anyone but myself.


tat for tit

just got back from jay's place with my new addendum. i had a few nagging reservations over the last couple days about going through with it but i stayed strong. i have reserved the right to regret this in the future, just in case. not that it will do me much good, there's no going back now.

the process was easier than i was expecting. all the times that i've seen tattooing on tv or whatever there was always a lot of bleeding and the people who were getting their first one seemed to be in a lot of pain. it's uncomfortable but i was able to stay relaxed the whole time. of course the area getting tattooed has some padding and pretty thick skin. it would likely have been a very different story if it were my ankle or neck. it was also more sanitary than i was expecting. jay used all new needles and i think he went through 7 or 8 pairs of surgical gloves, which has to make you feel pretty good about the safety of the whole thing. beats the push pin and bic ballpoint ink i'd get if i was getting this done in the joint.

jay started by swabbing the area with antiseptic and then applied a transfer of the design to my skin to use as a template. i didn't really like where it was positioned so we scrubbed it off and did it again. you don't want to be lazy and just go ahead when it's permanent. then he hooked up his appropriately primitive needle, which looks like a 1940's style electrical contraption created from basic stainless steel shapes with electrical wires hanging out and exposed moving parts. he started by outlining the flag in black with what's called a "3 round" - 3 needles packed together in a triangle, then switched to a single needle to outline the maple leaf so that he could keep the points and corners sharp. he swapped again to a "6 flat", which is like a wide paintbrush of 6 tattoo needles lined up in a row, and filled in all the red. finally he went back to the 3 round to add the shading on the wrinkles. the whole process took about 2 hours, including the extra 20 minutes for the botched first transfer.

once it heals in a few weeks i'll go back to get the colors touched up and possibly to add a flag pole. i'm leaning toward thinking that it needs one to complete it, but feel free to weigh in with a . i highly doubt that i will ever get another tattoo. some people get entralled by tattooing when they get one but it wasn't a spiritual awakening for me or anything. i'm satisfied with one.


chromatose

yesterday i went to REI to spend my dividend. the only thing i wanted was a replacement for my 4 year old dr. martin sandals, which i had to euthanize this year, but i wound up getting a pair of shorts too. they're lightweight and comfy, and in the store i thought they were a shade of charcoal but when i put them on today they looked very wrong and that's because they turned out to be some color called buffalo. i don't know what buffalo is but i'm going to guess that it's a sort of grayish-brown. the reason that i have to guess of course is that i suffer from deuteranopia. i should always check the tags or ask a salesperson, even when i'm sure about a color and how it will look next to some other color. problem is, that's a hassle and has the uncomfortable quality of an admission of stupidity, like i'm asking a computer salesman how to hook up a printer. like duh, it's peach and that's mint so no, they don't go together dumb ass.

a funny thing happens when you tell someone that you're color blind. a look of amazement washes over their face and they immediately start pointing to things and asking "what color is that?". blue, i'll sigh, unless i'm feeling devious in which case i'll say gray to every question. something like 8% of men and even a few women are color blind but you'd never know it talking to people. i think that's because most color blind guys don't tell anyone, for reasons similar to mine no doubt. as a public service, this is what it's like to be color blind: go to the settings on your video card and set your color quality to 16 bit instead of the typical 32 bit. see how some colors are harder to distinguish from each other now? that's it. no mystery, just a crappier video card rendering my desktop.

on a more philosophical level it's a bit of a different story of course, as things tend to be. i have a subjective experience when i see a rainbow, so do you. i can't fully explain it any more than you can. i can assume that since we're both the same species that our biological functions are very similar, but i can't escape the subjectivity of my own experience. my green experience might be more like your blue experience than your green, who's to say?

(sound effect of a phonograph needle scratch) you know, let me stop right there. i thought that there was some promise in this topic but it's clear there isn't. i've just wasted half an hour writing something that'll just put people to sleep. and i'm too tired and too bored to go back and rewrite it. green experience, blue experience - what the hell am i thinking?


remember this

writing is funny. things that you put down sound so good in your head when you write them, but when you come back to read them later with a fresh perspective they seem jumbled and awkward (and in my case usually pretentious). wednesday's post is a good example of that. you'd have to be obsessive to pick it up but i have to admit that i do go back and edit past posts for grammar and flow. when you're in a particular frame of mind it's easy to write things that are ambiguous to anyone who's not in that particular frame themselves, and the big problem is that you can't see the problem while you're in said frame of mind. it's like living in kamloops. after you've been there for a while you don't notice the smell of the pulp mill until you go away for the weekend and come back. you're inured to the stank by what's called olfactory fatigue.

i find that the concept of fatigue applies to a lot of things. when you have a chronic injury you wind up forgetting what it was like to be healthy. if you're in a job that you hate you forget what it's like to enjoy going to work in the morning. sometimes people toughen up and just accept it, but if you ever do escape you are bound to have a very high appreciation for your new, better situation. the reverse is true on the positive side too. if you're in a good situation and forget how good it is, you can really come to regret taking it for granted.

and then there's the false positives, those times when you look back on the past through a vaseline covered lens and "remember" how good it used to be. remember when people all got along so well back in the days before there were wars and terrorists? remember how great that girl that i used to go out with was? i once had a girlfriend that i broke up with 3 different times. then we'd bump into each other at school and go for coffee and i'd think "why did i break up with you, you're so cool". and then we would start going out again and i'd remember. eventually i had to write it down so i wouldn't forget.

so i guess my point winds up being that the grass can look greener on the other side of the fence/decade/latte, and that might be reality or it might not, and you might never know anyway. nice story, i like the ones that go in a big spiral toward no point. not that it matters, i can just come back tomorrow and touch it up.


the tin man speaks

it's my obligation to write something in this vast blank box but i'm fresh out of ideas. all the things that i've paid attention to over the last couple days (winning eleven 7, the bertuzzi punch, my miraculous recovery from a stuffy nose) don't grab me enough to commit to "paper". i guess lack of importance hasn't stopped me in the past considering the space i've dedicated to pictures of my ankle and stories about sizzler.

that is one of the things that i was hoping to gain from this blog thing though - a record of my shifting interests over time. looking back, i'm not really that interesting. apart from the travelogue portion of this show which might be enlightening for people who haven't been to northern california, the life experiences that i record are dull trivialities. in some ways that's a conscious choice. i've made an effort to not write about supremely personal things like relationships or heavy politics because i find the trivialities more palatable and less vulgar. that has the effect of sterilizing my blog from big emotions. if you know me very well at all you'll probably think that my meat space existence closely parallels my blog in that respect, much more head than heart. it stands to reason and to be honest i don't think i could make a very convincing argument to the contrary. it's not that i don't have emotions, it's more that i prefer them to be private, or shared with a very elite few. i'm a big proponent of privacy, with is somewhat antithetical to blogging, but that's also part of the point of this endeavor, to get me out of my private shell. i can't say that i'm accomplishing much on that front in light of this evidence. on the other hand i just told you something that's pretty personal so maybe i'm making some headway, but don't expect this to turn into a confessional overnight.


experience is the best teacher

i've been fighting off a sinus thing for a few days now. i get that now and then, triggered, i think, by some allergy. it always starts with a bit of a stuffy nose, but up high behind the eyes. there is an attendant post nasal drip, that after a couple days makes my throat raw but has the amiable side effect of giving me a deeper, raspier voice. i usually capitalize on that by recording a new outgoing message on my voice mail. eventually the glands in my throat get swollen in a precursor to full blown tonsilitis. after going through the same thing a few times you start to pick up on the pattern and try things to avert the danger. sinutab and hot tea to the rescue, although sometimes (like this weekend) you can't completely short circuit the pattern no matter what you do.

experience makes a lot of things easier. i managed to go out for dinner with a new hire at the company tonight. he and his wife are down from vancouver looking for apartments and i don't mind helping out a fellow canuck with some inside info on how to gain an american identity. talking to them about all the things you have to do to get set up when you move to a new country reminded me of my first move to the states. i've pulled up my roots and moved enough times now that it's almost routine for me. i do things when i move to a new place that at one point were big unknowns, but now i don't have to think about them much because it's part of the pattern. change mailing addresses, change insurance, get utilities hooked up, get a new driver's license - these things are not individually difficult, but go much smoother if you've done them before a few times.

the weird thing is that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for anyone else. if someone tells you that you can't get through a brick wall, it may be that they just aren't using a big enough mallet, or they're not willing to work at it as hard as you are. when i was younger i would stubbornly and deliberately try the things that i thought were possible when people would tell me otherwise. i used to hate when people would tell me how to do things, or worse, tell me why something i was trying can't work. actually i still hate that. the fun part for me is figuring out how to do something, not actually doing it. once i know how to do something it becomes significantly less interesting to do. but even being stubbornly independent is a pattern that i've recognized in myself so i'm not as quick to reject advice out of hand like i used to. i'm much more analytical about it - i want to figure out why you're wrong before i show you, rather than the other way around, which requires a lot less work. and that is experience at work.


red ink

tax time is upon us and i just finished filing my return. it was so nice to get to the end and have turbotax tell me that since i lived in washington state for 2003 i didn't have any state tax forms to file. add that to the list of things i miss in seattle. my first paycheck down here california was an "oh yeah i forgot about that" moment. anyway, you'll never hear me complain about how much tax i pay in the united states, or the weather in california. coming from canada it makes me wonder what all the bitching is about. to be honest, i'd willingly pay more if i didn't have to deal with an hmo. add that to the list of things i miss about canada.

speaking of the homeland, on/for my birthday last week i finally decided to get myself a tattoo. for the last 15 years i've thought about getting one but never came up with anything that i'd feel comfortable with wearing over the long haul. given some of the typically-lame-from-a-20-year-old images i was considering (skull with a sword through it anyone? superman logo? anchor on the forearm?) i'd say that was a wise decision. i still don't believe that i can be summed up in a tattoo, but i won't mind wearing a maple leaf over my heart in perpetuity. the head artist on my team does ink on the side and that got me thinking about it again. for some reason this time the urge pushed over the threshold into action and i talked to him about doing it either this weekend or next week some time. i'll have to take some crappy pictures of the process, for posterity.

i have yet to figure out why this is at all appealing to me though. it has a very tribal connection that seems to draw from somewhere deeply buried below my rational consciousness. there is no argument in my head with pros and cons, i just like the idea. i'm wary that this may be one of those things that i like the idea of much more than actual thing however. about the same time the tattoo urge first emerged i liked the idea of wearing glasses even though i don't need any. i considered getting a pair with window pane lenses to wear around as a kind of fashion accessory, to give me a different look. i definitely believe that a pair of glasses can affect how you are perceived, in the same way that a visible tattoo might, or the car you drive for that matter. in the case of glasses however, actually wearing them is a pain in the ass in many circumstances, and it's only when viewing the world through rosy glasses that it could turn into the spectacular life-changing success i had in my mental image.

man i was a dumb ass when i was 20.


blast from the past

the tim chronicles is not a new thing. i have previously sent out an email newsletter version of the chronicles, although it always petered out after a few episodes. while mucking around my hard drive lately i dredged up a few of the old ones and thought y'all might like to reminisce with me. it's always weird to go back and read stuff you wrote years ago. many times i feel like it was written by another person, usually a dull and unintelligent one. still, it can't be that far off because i notice that my style hasn't changed too much in the last 5 or so years.

anyway, enjoy.


most recent haircut

  • april 2007