destroying the environment, one leaf at a time
today when i was driving back to work from lunch a leaf, carried by the swirling eddies of highway air, beached itself on the dash of my open convertible. "poor confused leaf," i thought, "this was not your intent", so i gingerly lifted it from the dash and released it back to the nurturing wind from whence it came.
it was at this point that the clown behind me started honking his horn vigorously and proceeded to pull up beside my car and yell out "go back to washington jerk, we don't need your kind here". (how did he know i had previously lived in washington state you might ask? well, i have not yet switched my registration to california so i still have washington plates. i paid for them, and they're good for another couple months, and i'm cheap enough to not want to dish out a whack more money to change them over until i get my money's worth. when i buy food, i eat it. when i pay my green fee i make sure to see the whole golf course. it's about not wasting stuff. but i digress...) i gave him a very calm and reasoned rebuttal of two middle fingers, which oddly didn't seem to placate him. it's regrettably difficult to have a meaningful conversation about the environment across freeway lanes at 65mph.
to be fair, mr. uninformed granola munching ass clown has a point, which i take the liberty of paraphrasing for him: littering is bad. i even fully support that point of view. but when you offer that point of view with the shrillness of a yoko ono chipmunk remix it gets lost in the emotional response of the person you're screeching at. and if you parrot a dogmatic message with a knee jerk quick draw, you run the risk of looking like an extreme and/or extremist idiot. these two observations i think are the roots of a great many liberal failings. (they are the roots of a lot of conservative ones too, but then i don't broadly care about their platform) i believe that the liberal message is a good one, and one that a sensible intelligent person has a good chance of accepting. it's the delivery that's the problem. and the root of that problem is that the people who get activist on everyone and push the process are precisely the people who have the most passionately extreme views. factor in my hypothesis that the general public are idiots who care more about whom j.lo is dating than anything remotely political, and you have a recipe for the least amount of calm and reasoned discussion possible.
but what do i know, i can't even vote.
took a nice drive down the coast today to the beach in santa cruz. santa cruz is every cliche about california beach culture, and i don't mean that in a bad way. there is a boardwalk with shops, a main strip lined with surf shops running past volleyball courts and pasty sun bathers to an amusement park/casino complete with two roller coasters and a log ride. you can't see any of those things from the crappy pictures
i took, but they're there.
i went down with a friend who plays volleyball competitively, a sport i haven't touched for about 8 years. i managed to weasel my way into a few games on the beach and was pleasantly surprised that i haven't completely lost my skills. back in high school volleyball was the
sport for me. basketball was just something that i did after volleyball season to have fun and stay in shape for provincial team tryouts, and soccer wasn't even in the picture. but something happened after volleyball season ended in grade 12 and i dropped it cold turkey in favor of basketball. since then i have played very sporadically, instead getting involved in a long laundry list of other sports.
i'm not totally sure why volleyball fell so far off my map, since it's a good game and i still enjoy playing it. part of the reason i think is that i haven't hung around with people that play volleyball. another part is that volleyball is the single most abused sport in the world. the difference between good volleyball and the perverse facsimilie played in rec leagues by fat people wearing powder blue sweat suits is a vast and horrific chasm. most people who are not remotely athletic would never think of joining a basketball league, but they all seem to want to sign up to slap a white ball back and forth across an 8 foot net. i think it's fine that they're getting out and getting active, and i'm not trying to be elitist about the whole thing, but i just wish they could come up with a different name for it (maybe slappyball?) to mark the marked difference between the two. i should start a petition.
getting back to my original point, i really like beach culture. walking around with shorts and sandals on, the sand, the surf, the sun, the scenery - it's all good. it must be instinctive but i'm drawn to that lifestyle. if i had my choice of any way of life i'd pick a house on the beach with a bbq pit and boat tied to the end of a dock, and i'd never wear socks again. until i reach a level of financial independence that could facilitate a sock-free existence i'll just have to go back to the beach to get my fix.
the sweet science
i cooked and molded my mouth guard tonight. i'm starting to box again and you need one, even if you only plan to train, not fight. one of the guys i work with belongs to a boxing club and i went with him last week to work out there. it was cool to get into it again. i've done the boxing thing before a couple times, (the last time about 8 years ago) but i've never done more than a little controlled sparring. it is an excellent workout though. boxing is one of those sports that you can't cross train for. it works unusual muscles and works them with such intensity that you could be a triathlete and still come away sore from a hard workout. i'm no triathlete so i was pretty sore for 4 days.
boxing is a really primal sport. on one level it's all about raw instincts, rage and toughness, but on another there is an actual science to it. a very smart, skilled boxer will destroy a brawler by picking him apart. it's a bit like martial arts in that sense, that you learn defenses and counters to various attacks. if you get two boxers that are technicians the bout becomes a game of chess, with each making moves while thinking ahead to countering the counter-attacks. the kind of boxing you get at small local clubs is usually just a couple guys flailing at each other though, with the guy who can windmill his arms the fastest winning. i can remember one time at a house party in high school, a friend of mine and i thought it would be cool to lace up the gloves and box a little. i was thinking that we'd just play around and see what it was like, but he immediately came storming at me swinging his long lanky arms furiously and there was nowhere to back up to in the cramped bedroom we were in. i wound up having the laces of his glove leave a scuff across my forehead after one punch got too close for comfort and before i convinced him to chill out with a couple retalitory shots to the ribs. a lot of things seem like a good idea after a couple beers that wind up going south quickly when you actually try them. friendly boxing is definitely one of those things.
anyway, the two things that i'm hoping to get out of trying this again are to get into better shape, and to explore the primal part of me. there is something very focusing about being in a confined area with someone who is trying to knock you unconscious and you learn quickly how tough you really are. i'll let you know how i stack up when it comes to that.
watched a couple movies this past week, hellboy and kill bill 2. i haven't seen many movies since moving down here, mostly because it's not a big priority for the people i've been hanging around with. nothing wrong with that i guess but i like movies and it was nice to see something on the big screen for a change.
it may make me a geek to say this but hellboy was slick and well done. ron perlman really made the movie for me as the main character. the plot was typically constructed for comic book-based popcorn fare, but at least it didn't insult my intelligence. much. i found the nazis as villains to be cliched, although i did notice that they threw in a nice touch with the some of the artifacts. the spearhead
that was supposed to have pierced jesus is a real relic that was appropriated by hitler and has a long and intriguing history. i also liked the inclusion of rasputin as the head villian dude. he was an interesting cat in real life (and a hit with the ladies, if the bio written by boney m can be believed) and doesn't get much press. the visual style of the movie was a mix of blade and league of extraordinary gentlemen. i think i'm over the victorian futurist thing now though, can we do the 60's future vision again?
i liked the first volume of kill bill when i came out, but i wasn't really sold on it. it had it's moments and was interesting but it didn't stand out as spectacular to me. after watching volume 2 i think i have to re-evaluate that opinion. the two of them together make a great movie experience. it's a very well put together effort that makes me want to re-forgive quentin tarantino for being a pompous drunk weirdo, now that the amnesty of pulp fiction has expired. the plot in particular is masterful, considering that you know what the story is going in and yet you are surprised by how it plays out. volume 2 is also the first movie to make me think that uma thurman is actually hot. i've always seen her as a bit odd looking, but either she's aged well or i've aquired a taste for her brand of oddness. she's the anchovy of actresses, and i'm okay with that.
the blogging revolution
i've been at this for almost 6 months now. not too long, but then blogging isn't exactly an ancient artform either. the term weblog was only coined in 1997
, back when there was only a handful of people using the now familiar format. prior to that there was a primitive precursor to the blog called a plan
. unix users had a few cool communication options available to them and one was a file with a .plan extension that could be queried by other users. plan files were used to provide the current status of the user to everyone else, but didn't keep track of history like blogs do. part link collection
, part diary
, part editorial
, the weblog was a compelling concept for people, even though it was a manual process in the first couple years. once free software (like blogger
, which i use) arrived, blogging started to really snowball into the phenomenon it is today.
weblogs are beginning to have a major impact in the world. blogs now affect the presidential campaigns
and pop culture trends
to name a few area of impact. blogs are even used to circumvent oppressive governments and disseminate information from and within places like iran
which were once opaque to the rest of the world. blogs represent the democratization of opinion. anyone can weigh in on whatever they are interested in and the rest of the world can read it. not that the rest of the world cares generally, but still, they could. think back even 10 years to how people voiced their opinions and you'd be hard pressed to find uncensored channels of public broadcast beyond a very local scope. newspaper, radio, tv - all are tightly controlled. the web though, is positively anarchic in it's lack of centralized control. it's the bullhorn of the masses, who all seem to be yelling at each other.
whether blogs usher in a new age of enlightenment is yet to be determined. i'm skeptical because things left in the custody to the masses tend toward the lowest common denominator, but they're going to usher in something.
happy non-commercial holiday
so easter's over, not that i noticed. apart from a display of peeps at the grocery store it doesn't register very high on the holiday radar for people who don't have kids. americans don't even get a day off (it's a 3 or 4 day weekend in canada), which i used to think was odd before i cracked the holiday code.
think about it, america as a whole is one of the most religious nations in the world, and the dominant religion is christianity. so why is it that the event marking the death and resurrection of jesus doesn't rate a day off, while the holiday commemorating a party with the indians is worth a 4 day weekend? even christmas is usually only one official day off. my theory is that holidays in the usa are designed to allow time to observe only the most sacred ritual: shopping. thanksgiving is the biggest holiday because it is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. by the time christmas rolls around everybody has already been to the mall so there's no need for further time off work, and easter is a non-event commercially. it sells some candy and maybe a nice hat for the ladies but other than that it doesn't affect the bottom line. better to keep everyone working to maintain productivity.
consumerism is the true religion of america. everyone's stuck on the hamster wheel of working to pay off credit cards to free up space under the limit to go back and buy more stuff. you're never more patriotic than when you're shopping, doing your part to revive the sagging economy by refinancing your house and dropping a wad at home depot.
happy easter. only 257 shopping days till christmas.
so it's been 5 months since i moved down here already. time has just flown by, which means i must be having fun. it's true actually, it's been a very good 5 months in a lot of ways. it's funny (well not funny so much as interesting. well not interesting so much as ironicly tragic) that when you are enjoying yourself your perception of time is greatly sped up, and conversely when you're in a mini hell time slows to a painful crawl. it means that you have to spend a great deal more of your time enjoying yourself to make them even out. life would be so much easier and better if it was the other way around. think about it, if you could do something fun for 10 minutes and have it feel like an hour, while 8 hours of stupifying dullness would feel like 30 minutes, how much easier would it be to have a good day?
arguably the best thing about my time here has been my job. jobs are a big part of our lives, taking up roughly a third of our time, so enjoying that time goes a really long way to enjoying life as a whole. i've worked jobs that i absolutely hated, so i think i have a good perspective on it. one summer in the uncivilized reaches of northern british columbia i had a job cleaning the goop out of petroleum holding tanks. every morning i'd don a full rainsuit and a forced air breathing mask, crawl through a porthole in the side of a 60,000 barrel tank and shovel slime into a suction hose. the pay was pretty good, but it's hard to really appreciate the money while you're ankle deep in crude oil sludge. you would think that compared to that making video games for a living would be a non-stop barrel of laughs but even my past video game jobs have been fraught with frustration and tedium caused by working with some truly epic ass clowns.
it seems to me that there are two things that go into making a job good - what you do, and who you do it with. most people can get by with one and a half of those. either the job is not too hateful and you're working with cool people, or you love what you do, but you have to work with some dorks. when you find a job that nails both though, you wind up wondering what the hell happened to january.
a friend at work had two tickets to the giants/athletics game tonight that he couldn't use, so i kindly offered to help him out and take them off his hands so that they wouldn't go to waste. i'm a swell guy, what can i say. so me and ed booked out of work around 6 to fight traffic into the city. i think that i'm starting to know my way around a little now. i managed to find the tunnel to chinatown on the first try but i kind of botched the parking. i could have taken a free spot on the street but blew right past it and into the $15 event parking lot. some times it pays to slow down.
sbc park is a great stadium, very similar in some ways to safeco in seattle, which is still my pick as best sports stadium i've been to ever. there is a promenade that rings the stands from which you have an unobstructed view of the whole field while you wait in line for snacks. that's a good thing too, because they seem to have a concession hiring practice centered around sluggishness and apathy. the lines were long but there was not one hint of urgency or worry in any concession stand employee that i saw, and i saw a few. i spent more time in line than i did in my seat
just trying to get two hotdogs and a beer. and about those hotdogs, chicago style my ass. i've been to chicago and these dogs aren't in the same area code as a chicago dog, figuratively speaking. and there's a great place in seattle, matt's famous chili dogs, that does a very good replica, so i know it's possible.
the game itself was fairly lame. you could tell that some of the scrubs were in and that no one really cared too much. oakland's left fielder did get hit in the face with a pitch which brought some drama to the 8th inning, but that's not what i was hoping for. i'll definitely go back a couple times this year, but next time take the ferry over. it's a ton cheaper than parking and the bridge toll.
in other news, yesterday's post was abysmal, and i apologize. i re-read it tonight and this is the first time that i have wanted to just delete a post in it's entirety. it's clunky and dumb and has no point. the only reason i'm leaving it there is to punish myself for writing it in the first place. enjoy!
you would hope that all beef is somewhat organic, but there are strict rules behind that label. every thursday in the parking lot of the civic center there is a farmer's market, full of hippies selling produce and a guy with a freezer on wheels full of genuine organic beef. i'm an avowed carnivore and have an epicurean streak so i bought a nice fat steak and cooked it up on my tiny propane grill tonight.
now before i get any rash comments about how charcoal is so much better than gas from people who take grilling way too seriously, i agree with you, but they don't allow charcoal grills in apartments. you gotta make do.
anyway, i did the steak up nice, with cloves of garlic inserted into it and rubbed with salt. it was cooked just how i like it and turned out very tasty. i just don't think it was worth the embarrassing amount of money i paid for it. what is it about organic cows that is so expensive? maybe it's that they're so much smaller than the big beefy steroid cows that they make less steaks, driving individual steak prices up to make the same amount per cow. whatever it is, i think it's a scam. people scream about the industrial heartlessness of animal husbandry today (and i would agree that things could be a whole lot better) but it's a tough sell to get people to pay twice as much for eggs from chickens that get to run around a little. are we out of land in north america? are chickens and cows moving into high density housing in the urban centers because that's where the jobs are? do they feel they need the juice to hit the big home runs?
it seems to me that it shouldn't cost any more to grow a cow without drugs. put 'em in a field and they'll eat till they get fat. they can't help it, they're cows. all you have to do is stop trying to raise them entirely in the barn. it worked before, i don't see why we stopped.