Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

- Christmas was great this year. I went home for a couple days, got to see some friends from high school, saw my family, went to two great movies (Sweeny Todd and Walk Hard), and had some great food too. The Christmas haul was different this year, more meaningful. I got a couple of good books, including To Be the Poet by Maxine Hong Kingston and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman which I was absolutely dying to get my hands on, and also got one of my favorite films of 2007 on DVD, Ratatouille. The real highlight on Christmas though was seeing how much my brother enjoyed the hoodie I made for him. I bought a plain hoodie from Target, bought a bunch of patches of bands he loves and stuck them on, and then used this fabric dyeing technique I found online to put some badass kanji on the back. I was afraid he'd be disappointed it wasn't a game, but when he opened it he was all smiles and I think he felt it was the best present he got this year.

- I've been a cooking explorer these past couple of days, making all sorts of foods I've never tried before and was scared to attempt. I baked some salmon with breadcrumbs and rosemary, made miso soup, and cooked some shrimp scampi last night. They all came out delicious!

- At Best Buy I broke down and used the gift cards I got for Christmas to buy something I need rather than games and movies: an electric razor. The old one I was using was the first electric razor I got, back when I was thirteen, so I think it was time for a change. I also picked up a new USB gamepad for my PC, and let me tell you, playing through Super Metroid again emulated has made me happier than a lot of the new games I've been playing.

- This is a very relaxing, long vacation; one of those vacations where I've forgotten what it feels like to be at work day in and day out. I tried spending the last couple of days not even looking at a clock, and just taking the day as it came, getting done what I needed to, eating when I felt hungry. Not unplanned, just unconcerned with the passage of time. I hope I'm able to spend more weekend days like this.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Modoranai, gafuite shimata Himeguri Karenda

Because I absolutely cannot get this song and this video out of my head:

Monday, December 17, 2007

In lieu of diamonds, gold, and platinum reminders we'll still shine bright.

It's been a while since my last blog post. I feel pretty tired and stretched thin as this month hasn't been a good one so far.

- My dog Tracker died on Saturday, the 8th. He was a calm, attentive, humorous, human, caring and intelligent companion. I know a lot of people say their dog is more like a person than a dog, but Tracker really was. He was incredibly smart, and very expressive. You might remember him as the prettiest of princesses.

I first got him as a puppy, and trained him to be a guide dog for my community service project senior year of high school. He came with me to class a lot, and went practically everywhere my family went because he had to get acclimated to being in different places and situations. He was the most obedient and attentive dog of the batch, and when he went back to the guide dog group for his second year of training we were sure he was going to graduate and become a big part of someone's life. He did pass the training perfectly, but unfortunately they dropped him because he had an ear infection; the dogs have to be in perfect health to go to a blind person. Since then he became our family dog, and a highlight of every trip I made home. We took him to a dog beach in San Diego every year for labor day weekend, and he absolutely loved running into the water, swimming out and finding strings of kelp, and dragging them back to shore.

He had liver failure which had been diagnosed back in November right before Thanksgiving, and was looking better up until the first week of the month. He quickly got so bad and ended up in so much pain they had to put him to sleep. I cried a lot, even though I couldn't be there with him, and also because of that. I'm going to miss him a lot, and I'm sure it's going to hit me again when I get home and realise he's not there to greet me. He was a great dog.

- On my way home from a Christmas party this Saturday night my car broke down. I was coming back on the 5, from this party in Orange County, when smoke started billowing out from under the hood of my car. The radiator had cracked and blown antifreeze all over the engine. I pulled off the highway and was luckily able to get ahold of my friend Jeremy who was just then leaving the party, and was luckily able to crash with him for the night. Yesterday we attempted to patch my radiator and make it back to his house to replace the radiator, but it turned out whatever happened had stopped the radiator fans as well. This meant I got maybe ten minutes from where my car had ended up when it was a smoking mess again. I towed it from there to my mechanic, who I knew was closed on Sunday, only to find out he was closed on Monday as well.
This led Jeremy to offer me his car to use until then, only his car was stickshift, which I have no clue to drive. I spent about an hour and a half at ten pm last night learning to drive stick, then driving nervously home the whole way, including an accident on the 105 which slowed traffic to a crawl and put my skills very much to the test. I just about collapsed when I got home.

That's how my December has been so far. I don't know what Christmas, New Years, and Christmas break has to bring. I'm not hoping it's much, much better. I'd simply settle for normal at this point.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Everyone's blood goes white, 'cept yours and mine

The month of December is upon us! Arguably the most prestigious of months if not in the top five, December contains seasonal cheer, close gatherings of family friends, nippy weather (except for our friends in Australia. G'day Mates!) and the ever present ramp up to a new year which everyone, including myself, forgets about until the day after Christmas when the oh-shit-New-Years feeling sets in.

- I begrudgingly have to admit that How I Met Your Mother is pretty damn funny. I say begrudgingly because I avoid sitcoms, but Nico set me on a path today I could not avoid. A discussion in the office began about the "Slapsgiving" episode. Apparently one of the funnier clips from the episode was on YouTube and Eric related his tale of joy at its viewing. Then Nico related a similar incident with Vince. Then I remembered both Nico and Stuart like the show. I figured that if any episode would display the merits of the series to me, it would be this one. Later that night, I was able to watch the episode for myself, and yes, I laughed. I didn't laugh with the laughtrack! I can hold my dignity on that point, but there were some hilarious moments where I could not stop a guffaw. Particularly the Slapsgiving aftermath, which I did not see coming.

- After this fascinating article on Frank Herbert, I am convinced I need to read the rest of the books he wrote in the Dune series. I was originally planning to stop after the first trilogy, as I had been told that was the strong core of the series. Then, after learning how Children of Dune ends and learning about the plot of God Emperor of Dune, I became convinced I absolutely had to read about a sandworm/man hybrid. Then, with the above article fully digested, I realised I should read the two books after, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune.

- A couple rounds of sniper in Team Fortress 2 tonight reminded me how awesome the class is. A couple rounds of medic convinced me the bonesaw is an terrible tool of death, destruction, and general bad-assery.

- I'm really liking Calexico a lot.

- I'm aware I need to ramp up my Christmas gift process already. I'm torn between typical gift giving and creative gift production where appropriate. These dual forces tear at me terribly, particularly after watching The Story of Stuff. Yes, yes, I should not be so knee-jerk reactionary and examine sources further, which I will, but if there were any time of year to pay attention to this message, I believe it's now.

- "In the depths of the mirror the evening landscape moved by, the mirror and the reflected figures like motion pictures superimposed one on the other. The figures and the background were unrelated, and yet the figures, transparent and intangible, and the background, dim in the gathering darkness, melted into a sort of symbolic world not of this world. Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the center of the girl's face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of it." - Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata