Sunday, April 29, 2007

Umm... WOW

I am not one to turn my blog into a bigger soap box for my political views, but because I believe that the current war which this country is engaged in was unjust from the start and it touches so heavily on moral values and human rights issues, both over there and back home; I feel that this video (found on of former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel at the presidential debate in South Carolina speaks volumes... and I completely agree with him on all points.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Whoa, BACK OFF!!!

I'm packing up to head off to a retreat for LGBTQ Quakers this weekend. While I've been looking forward to meeting new people and having some spiritual and mental downtime for learning, sharing, and introspection, there is now a nasty bug going around my workplace and it is carrying pitchforks and torches, pounding on the front door of my immune system. On top of that, I tweaked out my back when I took a bad spill on my before-work hike the other day. I've been giving myself plenty of rest and have been blasting my body with ibuprofen, ginger, echinacea, goldenseal, garlic, and heavily curried dishes in hopes of keeping myself healthy and ready to go away this weekend. The bug now seems to be retreating back into the wild and my back is feeling a bit better. Here's hoping I keep a sound constitution for the weekend and beyond.

I apologize for not blogging more, I have been very busy with spring cleaning and computer repair projects for friends & family. I am also enjoying my new-to-me laptop as well as the enhanced lazy bum capabilities that it brings. Now I can idly surf the internet from any lounging spot in my entire household.

The rains have come and gone, and come again. The snow is completely gone in the low-lying areas around here, the corn field behind my house became a lake for a while, just like last year. Seasons changing, a lot on my mind, much to write about if I can keep my thoughts clear enough to put it all down. I am currently reading the non-fiction novel Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, recommended by quite a few friends & acquaintances as of lately and oh, what a beautiful story it is. Having been employed with a medical staffing agency and working as a LNA in various health care institutions, I have witnessed a lot of death and various stages of dying so I heavily identify with the author's unique perspective on end-of-life issues. Still, this book has taught me much despite all my experience. I wish I had read it six years ago. Then again, six years ago I might not have had the mental framework to appreciate the book or learn from it.

Well, I need to go finish some housework & packing. I have a bunch of random ideas and pictures which I'd like to chop into my next few posts when I get back.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Movies & A Music Kick

I had friends over to watch Frida this evening. I enjoyed re-watching it, noticing missed plot details from my previous viewing. A while ago my buddy Pasha hooked me up with a copy of the movie Lair of The White Worm and I only just got around to it the other day. Lately I've been watching a lot of films which are either strange and/or artsy/obscure; Lair was a lot of the first and a tiny bit of the second while bordering on being a grade B horror flick. Regardless, I still enjoyed it. I'll also mention that I've been on a British Isles musical kick lately, soaking in a lot of Irish, Scottish and British musical traditions and I can't get THIS ONE out of my head (from the soundtrack of Lair of The White Worm).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I've met my match

For those of you who don't know me, I have three personal creeds regarding food:

1. Maintain a healthy dietary lifestyle allowing for occasional indulgences.

2. There is no such thing as too much garlic (this is subjective I guess).

3. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO SPICY!!!! In fact, if it isn't making me physically sweat, it isn't spicy enough.

As the title of this post would indicate, I have now met my match. The third rule may need to be amended. My coworker J decided to try a recipe for ultra-spicy chicken wings that she found in a school fund raiser-type cookbook, fully expecting it to be tame because 'spicy' recipes out of school fund raiser cookbooks typically are. She surprised herself with how powerful their kick was and knowing what a peppery spice aficionado I am, she brought a couple of them in for me. Upon the first bite they actually brought me to the fine line between uber-spicy and physical pain, causing me to pant and sweat profusely for about 20 minutes. I've never enjoyed the feeling of my head being on fire, but this was actually almost pleasant.

Interesting side note: it has been conjectured that spicy food addicts such as myself are actually given to a form of natural drug addiction due to the endorphin-boosting properties of most types of capsaicin-containing peppers.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oh, so they want to play

Warning: gripefest coming on...

I've been trying over the last few years to be a less reactionary person... taking the 'moral high road' so to speak; going to people who are stepping on my toes and trying to calmly discuss the issue with them and arrive at a resolution, but this approach also assumes that the other party involved has some regard for entities outside of themselves.

The apartment I live in is a tad shabby, but it is in a relatively safe neighborhood, the rent is currently reasonable, and there are good neighbors all around. A minor caveat: the walls and floors are poorly insulated, especially against sound. I can often hear conversations that my upstairs neighbors are having in a normal tone of voice. My roommate and I usually work second shift and we typically sleep until late morning due to this schedule. Lately we have been awakened to the sounds of DMX, Eminem, and assorted gangsta rap artists (think of LOUD REPETITIVE BASS-LINES) starting around 7-9am. I tried to go up there and explain to them that we slept late because of the shifts we worked, the walls and floors being poor sound-insulators, and politely asked if they would please keep their stereo turned down in the mornings. I thought everything was good and no sooner had I gotten back down to my apartment when they TURNED IT UP LOUD ENOUGH TO RATTLE THE PICTURES ON THE WALLS... and they left the volume right there. I took no action because it wasn't worth my energy at the time. This morning they were at it again and lately I have been incurring lots of sleep debt because of them.

The sound ordinances in this town are such that anyone making excessive noise at any time of the day is fair game to have the police called on them, but I really don't enjoy wasting the PD's time with petty noise-wars and other such frivolous issues. So... I happen to have a nice little sub woofer attached to my computer stereo system. I keep it turned all the way down most of the time but when it is at top volume, it outstrips their stereo by at least 30 decibels. So I took the sub woofer, mounted it on top of my entertainment system, pointed up into the ceiling, cranked it all the way up to top volume with a bass enhancement plugin running on my computer's music playing program. I put it on the loudest, most brainless, obnoxious, repetitive club song I could find in my music folder (Noname - I'm Your DJ, Johnny Vicious Remix) and set it to repeat for a good 20 minutes. The trick seems to have worked for now. Time will tell if I need to take this approach again. My next step may be to go down in the basement and start randomly flipping the circuit breakers for their apartment.

Yeah, this probably seems like an immature, retaliatory method for dealing with the issue but I already tried the nice-guy approach and I am heavily dependent on getting enough sleep.

Currently dreaming of the future time when I will have my own house on my own land and not have to deal with things like this.

Thanks for listening to my whining.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Like Damp Earth, Leaf Litter, and Moss...

...was the smell of the woods on my hike yesterday. I forgot what springtime in the woods smelled like and realized how much I missed it. Yet again I caught myself slogging muddy trails after dark, but I don't mind. Again also I will mention that I find it strange that the woods in the night-time was one of my biggest fears well into my teenage years, now it happens to be my biggest source of zen moments and spiritual/mental/emotional epiphanies. I am noticing more and more that life in general and mine in particular is filled with odd paradoxes and like a newly learned word... the moment you grasp it and integrate it into your vocabulary, suddenly it is popping up everywhere, causing you to take note of it; 'prescient' being one of them, and seemingly apropos given some recent life circumstances which I won't expound upon right now.

A lovely quote spotted on a placard in the meetinghouse library today:
"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." -Rabindranath Tagore
It gave me some food for thought, even more so than much of the reading I've been doing lately.

I finally got a laptop computer, purchased for $200 plus some mind-numbing computer work for a couple of friends. The model I worked on was a Dell Inspiron 1500 which turned out to have some device driver issues, a couple of viruses, and a bazillion spyware programs on it. The model I received for this bargain price was an Inspiron 1100. Definitely not top of the line, but more than sufficient for my purposes. I also needed to do a bit of work on this one being as it was infected with one of those malicious RIAA rootkits as well as more viruses and spyware. Both machines are now in excellent working order.

Oh yeah, and I know this post is totally going A.D.D. on you, so I should just run with it now... a few random pictures I found lying around on the computer (I can't remember whether or not some of these have been posted here before):

Me (around age 20 or 21?) and 'Little Buster Brown', a baby robin that my sister's dog brought in unharmed after finding it outdoors. He was an awkward-looking little pink blob with quills when I first took him home and brought him up on a diet of meat-based baby food, worms, and assorted bugs. It was amusing for visitors to see me puttering around in the back yard with him on my shoulder or head. I enjoyed making them think I was some sort of ultra nature boy. Raising this little guy was easy, but the problematic part was letting him go. He just kept coming back no matter how often or how far I took him into the woods. The most amusing scenario was when I thought he was finally gone and he came barreling out of the bushes, landing SPLAT! into a bowl of spaghetti that I was enjoying on my parents' front deck.

A nice silhouetted sunset shot that I took while walking to a friend's house the other evening

'Cromwell', a wild turkey who frequents my parents' back yard

A couple of macro shots of a 'Cherry' shrimp, Neocaridina denticulata sinensis, in one of the planted displays at my workplace

Back when I had long hair, not sure what got into my head back then (I drank a lot back then, so possibly too much Captain Morgan???) ;-p

Glamour shot