Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pop Fizzle 2: Electric Boogaloo

Took my phone apart the other night (OK, took the battery out and left it open), then I cleaned the screen yesterday, and when I put it back together it worked, no problem. No trip to Verizon last night, and one less thing to deal with, though I will be keeping my eye on the old boy...
No lawn mowing last night either: Anne and I did a nice 26 mile ride north of town instead, going out Jacksonville Road and eventually returning through Northampton and Catasaqua. Beautiful night for a ride, and it was something we both really needed. Tonight I may try for an SMB ride if the weather holds.
Reading #1: China Mieville's Iron Council. I finished Perdido Street Station and, even though the next in the series is The Scar -- next in order of being written, and next in the historical chronology of New Crobuzon; the books themselves are not necessarily connected except in their setting -- the next book I have is Iron Council so that's what I started. Pretty good story so far, good but not great, an easy read; these books remind me a little of the Dragon Tattoo trilogy: they're page turners, guilty pleasures, summer reading even if they're not quite trash. This one went with me to Massachusetts, and at home I've been reading it in the living room.
Reading #2: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; I picked this up in Northampton MA, on our standard bookstore-tourism run. I'm surprised to say this but -- well, meh. I'm still pretty early in the book, but it's less meaty than I expected, but I suppose that's good because I'm reading it in the bedroom.
Reading #3: Never Mind the Pollacks by Neal Pollack. Re-reading actually, in the bathroom. Still funny, but I think it lost something over the years, maybe a case of relevance drift...
Listening: I usually tell anyone who'll listen that I loathe fusion, but the other day I got a hankering for some Return to Forever so I downloaded "Majestic Dance," and then I turned around and downloaded Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Still not sure why I did, but they were a good listen, they still sound great -- when I'm in the right mood.
Sooner or later I'll write something about the similarities I see between old exploitation films and the marketing of current pop culture (which was my intention when I picked this post's title) but I don't think it'll happen today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Well, it looks like I will be getting a new phone tonight.
My droid seemed fine yesterday at work, though admittedly it doesn't get much use until my commute home, when it does double duty as my MP3 player, and that was when the odd behavior started: songs would jump around unexpectedly, or my preferences (shuffle, repeat etc) would suddenly change. The problem went away when I shut off the display, but when I got home the situation got worse, and looked for all the world like some invisible fingers were randomly touching my phone's touchscreen.
Turned it off, turned it on, the problem was still there. Pulled the battery for a few minutes and the problem seemed solved, but it came back later in the evening, and culminated in a post-midnight pocket dial -- sorry Donna! The entire interface was frozen by that point, not responding to anything but those invisible fingers, so I pulled the battery again and went to bed.
The problem might be something in the software, maybe even a virus or malware screwing things up, but I really suspect a hardware issue, either bad contacts or a short somewhere. Given all the rain we've had, maybe it's been damaged by water or moisture in some way.
Last night was a short towpath ride, followed by the VMB meeting at Hello Burrito, where the food seemed much better than the last time I was there -- maybe they're getting past their growing pains. I met Mike P on the towpath and we rode together, and then we bumped into Joe G in town, and the gang was all together at the meeting, which had a much smaller attendance than last time but was still good. After the meeting we regrouped at Brew Works, where I met up with Anne, and Emmi, and Donna and Debbie and Matt -- we also saw Pete H and his wife there, so there was quite a crowd at our section of the bar.
It's really nice today, and seasonally beautiful for the first time in more than a week, but I think I may blow off riding in favor of some much-deferred lawnmower duties, and follow that with a trip to the Verizon store.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Smackdown of the Odious #1: Randall Munroe takes on Ben Stein.
Smackdown of the Odious #2: Savage Love vs The Guy Who Can't Get Laid. (The comments are good too.)
Smackdown of the Odious #3: And it's Doghouse Riley with the winning run!
So last night Anne asked me what wisdom I would impart to someone just starting out in adult life. She had a list of things that she thought were important in life, but I took a different approach:
1. Get a job to pay the bills, and do fun and fulfilling stuff on your own time.
2. Find and patronize a nice, quiet local pub.
3.  If you're into something athletic or outdoorsy, train during the week so you will be able to enjoy the big events on weekends.
4. (Maybe an expansion on item #3.) Most worthwhile things/activities are more rewarding the more you put into them, but you will not get anything back at all until you give above a certain minimum threshold. A good example of this is the computer; a mediocre example would be the bike, which is always fun at least, even if other rewards are unavailable.
Anyway, that was at the Brew Works. Before that I rode the towpath, starting in good weather, which held until I was on the way home -- slight rain at first, then a half hour of thunder, wind and torrential rain. I must have rode right through the front, the storm was over by the time I got home. Pretty cool actually. I've been trying to get back on the fitness wagon, especially in terms of biking, and starting at the beginning of May I'd been holding medium-high mileages (100 miles/week), at least until last week's deluge-fest, which I took as a rest week. This week and next are supposed to be around 120 miles/week (and it goes up from there), we shall see -- tonight is the VMB meeting, when we talk about bikes instead of riding.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Well, here I am again, in the Haymarket Café in Northampton MA, on a Sunday morning. I remember the my first time here, up visiting with Anne, an early "relationship challenge" -- I'd ordered this laptop but it hadn't arrived yet, so it must have been the Fall of 2008 (I hadn't yet committed to move in because I required a computer at my place, wherever that place might be), and I was using her laptop after eating -- and that trip, and that brunch, was the first time Ben and I actually met and hung out together. If I remember right, we all had our noses in the books we'd bought the day before.

Yesterday was Ben's graduation from Hampshire College. We came up on Friday, in time to see his final presentation: he and his friend Jason had translated the works of several early-20th-century Russian poets for their senior projects, and they talked about the issues involved, like sound vs. meaning, grammatical structures and themes and plays on words -- it was pretty fascinating, how they chose between various compromises and emphases, to bring the essences of the poems into English. We had a bit of a party at his dorm afterward, students and parents, burgers and hot dogs and 2 pony kegs of Pennsylvania homebrew.

Commencement was yesterday, on the Hampshire campus, and it was really nice despite the weather, and far less formal than most. (I realized that there's a lot to be said for having the graduation ceremony on the college campus, as opposed to my graduation, held all those many years ago at the Garden State Arts Center.)

We came back to Northampton, and regrouped for a bit before heading over to Jason's for another party, this time fewer parents and more intimately student-oriented. We really got to hang out and BS with the kids -- it was pleasant to be around a diverse crowd of intelligent, and intellectually curious, youngsters, and fun to see how their tastes were informed by their intellectual curiosity. (Banjos and fiddles in the corner, Art Tatum jamming on the boom box, and all sorts of Russian posters, presumably Jason's, on the walls.) We were the fools who brought the fake mustaches, and they were a big hit...

Anyway, now it's downtime -- it was a great few days, but there was also a fair amount of stress involved, and now we're gearing up for a long drive home with a car full of Ben's dorm room. I think we could use a staycation next weekend.