Friday, January 30, 2009


In between high-def viewings of Pineapple Express (highly recommended), Tropic Thunder (also highly recommended) and Guy Ritchie's Revolver (want my copy? It's still in my garbage can), I came across a print that I hadn't seen for some time.

Invariably, I've found that classic art never dies. It may fade, it may be relegated to the attic or the back storage room, but it's always going to have that strange, fascinating allure, that gravitational pull (for you Star Wars fans), and/or the joi de vivre that will blow up your squirt and make you feel all warm n' tingly inside, like a bowl of panko-crusted mac n' cheese fresh from the oven.

All the greats -- Picasso, Cesan, Renoir, Munch, Leroy Neiman...their work will never leave us. To that end, I've found another piece which I think is not necessarily quite on their level but should nonetheless remain in our collective consciousness for eras to come.

Enjoy safely.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome To Thunderdome

When it rains, it pours; when it snows, it gets white.

In deference to my last post, the weather is yet again playing havoc with my day-to-day existence, but I have to admit it could be -- somehow -- a lot worse. That's not just the glass being half-full or an outpouring of an overwhelming sense of hopeful optimism.

Yesterday, after some early concern, yet another speed bump along the road of life was traversed without incident. Without expounding on the details, suffice to say -- any time I feel the need to complain, herein or elsewhere -- I come to the realization that I really shouldn't. It's rare that I reach a low point or become enveloped in some sort of sour mood; there's far too much for which I am thankful to be overtaken by any extended dark period, and for that I am lucky. I know plenty of people who are either clinically or emotionally dysfunctional, and I'm similarly lucky to have limited my interaction these types of people.

Work-wise, I'm expecting to be heading downtown yet again in this snow-globe of a day. I advised Kaia last night about the then-incoming (and now well underway) storm set to blanket the region with yet another multi-inch coat of snow, and while she gets excited each time it snows us in, when she asked me if this was to be a real storm, I advised her it sounded like the kind of storm that people who work at home get excited about ;-) It's not that I don't enjoy the snow; it's more that it's a pain in the ass that makes my life -- getting to and from work, getting around the City, etc. -- that much more difficult. Since I got a heavy-duty parka, I don't much mind the snow. I'm keeping dry and (relatively) warm. Aside from the clothing (wearing extra layers and boots to keep my feet warm and dry) and the travel issue, the real pain vis-a-vis the snow (versus solely frigid weather) is that it's much harder to use a cellphone or the iPod. I have a pair of gloves that lets me use my iPod (the Touch, like the iPhone, isn't compatible with regular gloves) so that's not much of an issue, although the gloves (the North Face "E-Tip") aren't very warm and consequently my hands get a lot chillier than I'd like. But overall, no one wants to operate sensitive electronic devices (read: pricey) in snowy, wet weather.

Today's agenda -- rapidly becoming relevant -- has me headed downtown among the winter-weary travelers en masse and visiting two City agencies. I spent some time doing so yesterday amid the quasi-chaos, but because of a little surprise courtesy of The City of New York and its creative scheduling and reworked tax exemption laws, a lot of yesterday's travel time was relatively futile. While I garnered some much-needed information that will help us moving forward, yesterday -- especially yesterday -- wasn't really a day which I would have accepted a few hours of wasted-ish time. As they say in Norway, c'est la vie. You do the best with what you've got and move forward. And, to complete the cliche "tray," when life hands you lemons, make key lime pie.

In either case, the remote network had some issues over the last 24 or so hours so I addressed those and I did some basic diagnostics last night prior to our consultant doing what he had to do to get us updated info. I've been checking and rechecking everything to make sure it's workable and everything seems to be functioning at 100%. Of course, part of why I'm good at the PC side of life is because I expect things to go FUBAR at any given moment, which a) lets me get at the solution without being surprised there's a problem; and b) anticipating the problem rather than being surprised by it means I can take steps prior to the melt-down to handle it rather than waiting 'til the fan is coated with manure. It's much easier solving problems when you know how to solve them without the pressure of a nuclear countdown clock ringing in your ears.

Actually, somehow, that whole PC strategy works in life, too. Sometimes, however, it's a lot easier to apply these basic tenets of simple, focused thought to sections of our lives than our lives as a whole. Put another way, it's a lot easier to diagnose a network than your life.

The network can be restarted ;-)

Until next time...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Frozen Semi-Solid

In and of itself, I doubt anyone really likes the cold weather. Some people prefer it to boiling-hot, sweat-inducing temperatures, and that's understandable; but when the temperature is hovering in the low 20's -- the kind of cold weather that this winter has gifted us -- it's hard to make a case for enjoying the frigid, skin-burning cold.

I've got plenty of winter clothes, cold-weather outerwear and I've made a point to wear warm stuff in general (no chambray, light cotton or thin summer-weight slacks); I've made sure to pack and/or equip myself with 180s (the lame earmuffs that wrap around the back of your head), I've packed a scarf to be safe (even though all my winter jackets have zip-up neck protection) and I've even taken to wearing gloves welcome at an Alaskan lumberjack convention.

And yet I still freeze.

In either case, this shouldn't be taken as an anti-winter diatribe, nor is it an extended whine about the evils of awful weather. Rather, what I've found interesting is the fact that, like most New Yorkers, winter is a time for hibernation. I avoid going out as much as possible, and I make an attempt to avoid the outdoors as much as possible as well. These aren't the same thing; the former indicates that I'm aware of wanting to be out and about with friends, et al, and the latter suggests that I get where I'm going -- for work or play -- as quickly as possible. That isn't to say I dawdle when it's nice out; that means that I resist the urge to move slowly when I'm forced to brave the elements.

More importantly, in lieu of being social and spending time out and about with friends, I've spent a lot more time on the PC or watching movies then is typical. Aside from when I've got looming or soon-expiring deadlines at work, I balance my home-time; however, now that it's frigid, I'm spending more PC time and/or TV time than is typical for me. To that end, I've managed to watch two Guy Ritchie films (Revolver, with Kaia, and Rocknrolla) as well as Appaloosa (Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson) and also managed to take in a viewing of Enemy of The State (the one with Will Smith and Gene Hackman). Part of the charm from extended viewing hours, so to speak, has to do with the new 1080p Samsung monitor, but the simple fact is that being a couch potato -- without remorse -- is not something to which I'm accustomed, nor is it really something I'm enjoying. I do like the fact that I don't need to wear eight layers to go to a bar or some other gathering place for shits n' giggles; but at the same time, staying in and being lazy -- the kind of malaise that presents having showered as accomplishing something -- is not my bag, baby.

Put another way (thanks in advance to Dr. Evil):
Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
In hindsight, summers in Rangoon could very well be an improvement.

Back to hibernation...


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Turning Tide

In and of itself, the last week has been tumultuous both personally and politically.

Since my last check-in, Kaia and I spent the better part of the last week checking out some apartments (finding not one but two viable options) and setting in motion the paperwork for her official Eastward jaunt. Inasmuch as this process -- moving -- is an upheaval for her, it's oddly scary in a happy way for me.

We've been talking about her relocating to NYC for so long that it made me wonder whether she ever would. I knew her heart was in the right place, but for someone that -- despite being a world traveler -- never lived further than a half-hour from her family proper, the move was and remains a huge thing. She and I both are conscious it's only a six-hour plane ride from her family -- and a half-hour versus six hours is not a huge disparity, all things considered -- but it's still a mental, emotional step that is big.

As for me, I'm at once both unnerved a bit and incredibly happy. We discussed this and both of us agree it's a big step, one that will have significant implications on both our lives, both individually and together. Initially, there's no ring and no one-knee proposal, but we're both fully aware that this is us moving forward for the rest of our lives.


As for the other excitement -- as if anything else could compare to the above-described news -- the last week or so has been interesting vis-a-vis Barack Obama's impending inauguration. While I am firmly -- and proudly -- committed to the politics and the government of this nation, I -- as a conservative -- can't complain about the manifestations from the past eight or so months that have led us to this day. There are some pro's and con's about Mr. Obama's incoming administration, but overall I am pleased that he's going to be in the driver's seat. I thought John McCain was the wrong man for the job, and I'm glad the country got it right by electing Mr. Obama. I'm also glad that we finally moved forward enough to recognize that a black man can and should be elected if he's the better candidate, and while I don't necessarily agree with every decision he's offered or some of the choices for his cabinet, I think he's a good man and I think he'll be a successful President. Without going out on too much of a limb, most -- if not all -- of us can agree that he'll be more successful than his predecessor.

I saw this article on Slate this AM and it resonated with me on some level. Aside from the fact thatthe author,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Delayed Without Delay

Almost every weekend comes with the promise of boundless time, relaxation and ease, and yet things rarely, if ever, work out that way.

My latest foray in keeping my weekend hours full came courtesy of some sort of trojan virus that was embedded in a downloaded DVD-Rom driver. As is typical, every time I endeavor to make changes to my rig -- a new drive, more memory, an additional scratch/data hard drive, etc. -- I wind up wishing I hadn't. I had to do an upgrade of my TV and wound up with a Samsung 1080p that continues to blow me away. Watching football, movies -- anything, really -- was even more impressive than it was with the Aquos. I'd go into detail about the Giants losing to the Eagles, but the fact is I'll be in mourning for at least the next few days and can't really address it properly at this particular moment (and I'm only half-kidding). Kaia consoled me to the best of her ability -- and her abilities are pretty damn good -- but unless she can wind back the hands of time and encourage Eli Manning to have a good game, it's all for naught, as was the 2008 season. On a side note, take care, Plaxico -- next time use a Kevlar holster.

Back to it.

So rather than spending this cold, snowy weekend in bed with my significant other (or perusing exhibits at a museum, in a movie theater or even prancing around Soho), I wound up reinstalling and re-gearing my setup. It's gotten to the point where I've got enough bulletproof software that I should be able to do everything necessary to a) prevent virii; b) track what they're doing, when applicable; and c) surgically remove them from my system as if I were lancing a boil. Of course, as Styx once observed, nothing indeed ever goes as planned.

So, in essence, everything is -- pretty much -- back to normal. I got the system back to (and even better than) where it was before, the PC is humming along -- quietly -- and quickly, and I even managed to set up the USB turntable to convert my Dad's LP's to CD's. Once I have the final piece of the puzzle ready on my system -- installing Lightscribe software which "burns" an image onto the label side of the CD/DVD in question -- I'm all good.

Meanwhile, I did take some time off of PC restoration duty to hang with Kaia -- we saw (and really loved) Pineapple Express and House Bunny. The former was way, way out there but great, and the latter was a solid film. Neither are going to win any awards (Schindler's List, they aren't) but they were both entertaining and mindless enough that I was smiling rather than fuming over the PC's status at that time.

We also headed out with friends and had a nice, mellow dinner Saturday night and again Sunday night (despite the Giants debacle). So I managed to get plenty done personally and Kaia and I were able to spend plenty of time with friends. So in retrospect, I re-did the entire PC setup, watched some (awful, irritating) football, replaced the TV, and generally had a great weekend with my other half.

So I can't complain, and I shouldn't complain, and I won't complain.

Hence why I won't address the Giants herein at this particular time.

Because I wouldn't want anyone to suspect I was ungrateful for the good things, of which I have plenty. But holy shit, when and if I get back to being my usual, griping, unsatisfied self, I know which topic will head that list.

Incidentally, I've held off addressing the situation in Gaza. There's lots happening and plenty to discuss -- the UN and the Red Cross claiming Israel's attacked their people/convoys, the attempt by Egypt and France to broker some sort of lasting cease-fire, and the violence that recently erupted at a "pro-peace" pro-Palestinian rally over the weekend.

A friend of mine mentioned the rally and its ironic outcome last night. He asked me, point-blank, "How can people who don't want peace among themselves even be taken seriously when they claim to want peace with Israel, or anyone else?"

Abso-positively-goddamn right.

More -- much more -- later.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

High Hopes

This should come as no surprise to anyone. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- one of the world's great assholes -- decided to dismiss Israel's Venezuelan ambassador in reaction to the latest unrest in Gaza, calling Israel's defense of her borders "planned utilization of state terrorism."

Ironically, the other interesting phrase listed in the Venezuelan press release -- "Venezuela condemns strongly the flagrant violations of international law" -- was used to describe Israel's attack against Hamas, not Hamas's decision to fire rockets into Israel.

Incidentally, Mr. Chavez also called Israel's army "cowards." This description, of course, shows exactly how far removed from reality Mr. Chavez is. The Israeli army has managed to protect the land of Israel for 60 years from neighbors ten times its size.

Nevermind that Hamas uses suicide bombers to blow up schoolbuses.

I suppose anyone that can analyze this particular situation and label the Israeli army -- as opposed to suicide bombers -- cowardly has earned the title of Supreme Asshole.

Next, we should expect another of the world's great assholes, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to call for Israel's destruction. Again.

It's unusual for insane megalomaniacs to be this predictable.

Let's hope the trend continues.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Straight Outta Gaza

Another day, another dose of bullshit.

I especially like this particular quote attributed to Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar: "They [Israeli forces] shelled everyone in Gaza. ... They shelled children and hospitals and mosques," he said. "And in doing so, they gave us legitimacy to strike them in the same way."

Perhaps someone should have told Mr. al-Zahar that the reason why Israeli forces shelled everyone in Gaza was a) because his militants hide among civilians so that it will be harder for Israel to attack them; and b) his militants use children and hospitals and mosques as shields so when Israel does attack them they can use these types of attacks as PR; and c) if he was so concerned about Israel attacking children, hospitals and mosques, wouldn't that suggest that the rocket attacks into Israel that created this situation in the first place be curtailed?

I don't think he's stupid, as many people do. I think, mostly, he's stubborn.

And I'm glad that the Israelis have plenty of firepower and are willing to let it loose in order to outlast the stubbornness of this shitbird and those that think like him.

Put another way, I am hoping that, sooner or later, Israel lets Hamas worry about the PR so she can continue fighting with artillery and weaponry rather than words and images. The UN -- whether it's Syria, Jordan, Nicaragua or Venezuela -- will continue to blame Israel for the aggression and the violence. They'll ignore the fact that any nation has the right to defend itself from aggression, and they'll assume Israel's refusal to stop the attacks several days ago was a sign that they want violence, despite the fact that it was -- as per usual -- Hamas that allows these rocket attacks to break the peace deal du-jour.

Like many Israelis and people around the world, it's just more talk and bullshit from another lying Hamas mouthpiece. I hope Israel finishes the job, moves forward and deletes the reworked borders.

Enough is enough.