Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Fun - film parody edition

Picked this one up from Gawker... Brilliant!

Of course, it made me think of this too...

Can't forget part 2...

a brief political comment

Whether Clinton pulls it out or Obama finishes what now seems like an inevitable trajectory, I am confident we will have a strong candidate. McCain seems like a default candidate, and I do not truly believe that he can defeat anyone the Democrats put forth. That said, it's pretty clear that if Clinton fails it will be because of two things:
  • The same old hands (and rivals) within the party machine joined the campaign because of its inevitability, but they never counted on having to work.
  • Obama has managed to skirt his lack of experience (his greatest liability, in my opinion) with a message of hope that the country is craving after almost eight years of abject fear and idiocy.

This is not to say that I want Clinton to fail. She has been a capable senator — though I still quibble with her support for the war — and is an intelligent and experienced individual. She could be an excellent president. She is, however, a "Clinton" which will create an instant liability for her from the beginning of her presidency. Why? Because there are significant chunks of the electorate who will never support her because they view her as an opportunist who is married to a philanderer. Sadly, there are also segments of the electorate who would never support Obama because he is black, but that's another subject for another time.

I Want My Life To Make More Sense To Me, pt. 2

As part of my physical and psychological therapy, I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about what it means to deal with this trauma. A post by my friend Amy over at Incertus reminded me that there are other layers to the recovery, layers that go back to John Locke's murder at Arkansas in 2000 and follow the trajectory of the various ups and downs of my life since then. The conclusion I've come to as part of this whole reflection and growth process is that fully dealing with the trauma of the shooting almost a year ago also involves facing and confronting other unpleasant experiences.

The paradox of dealing with the trauma(s) is that you have to move on from something that will always haunt you. By this, I mean that you need to recognize and let go of triggers that set off anxiety attacks or flashbacks; at the same time, you can't push the feelings under the metaphorical rug. Holding on to the feelings ensures that you will never move on. Ignoring the impact of the trauma ensures that it will come back to haunt you later—in spades. Finding the proper balance here does not guarantee that you won't be haunted by random flashbacks and other traumatic pentimentos. Nevertheless, finding the balance gives the possibility of retaking your life.

What I have discovered lately is that there are basic steps that I have to take to get through the pain and anxiety. Taking on some personal design projects has helped. Making sure my kitchen is clean every night when I go to bed has helped. Making sure that my coffee table is empty has helped. Getting back into routines has been essential. Though small, each of these things has been part of the overall task of controlling my life, rather than letting random circumstance be the rule of the day—because random circumstance can be a cruel mistress.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Want My Life To Make More Sense To Me

  • The title of this post is taken from a song by Glen Hansard and The Swell Season. It's a hell of a song about making amends and turning around. The Swell Season, with Hansard and his partner Marketa Irglova, is also an excellent, quiet little folk duo. They were one of the highlights of the Oscars, and the notice they're getting is well-deserved. Don't forget to pay attention to Hansard's guitar if you do catch them. It's so well worn that the face has worn through in two spots, much like an Alvarez (at least I think it was an Alvarez) that my friend Ned Landin played on the street in Harvard Square years ago.

  • I recently picked up The Animal Years by Josh Ritter. It's a hell of a good album. Ritter's lyrical strength is undeniable. Like early Bob Dylan, the lyrics are worth reading just for the imagery and excellent word play. The guy can also play a pretty damn good song. His energy was infectious in a live set on "The Artists Den" on Ovation, and I suspect I'll be searching out a gig within driving distance in the near future.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Verizon Sucks, part *I've lost count*

I'm liveblogging this, baby...

I am on hold with the fourth person I've spoken to this morning. Supposedly, she finally found the "active" erroneous bill. She has placed me on hold--mind you, by this point, I know every song on Verizon's hold music--in order to speak to billing and find out which way this account needs to be corrected.

She just lost me. The call shipped over to another rep at sales and service. She shipped me back to billing, and the person there shipped me to FiOS.

Patience is a virtue, right?

I have just asked the latest CSR to hand me to her supervisor. When she told me she would need to take my call-back number and have the supervisor call me back , I patiently explained that she was the eighth person I had spoken to this morning and that I very much needed to speak directly to a supervisor at this point.

12:20 p.m. Update

I'm on with person number 10 now after the last rep refused to put me through to her supervisor directly.


1:02 p.m. Update

The FiOS account rep I was "walked to" by number 10 has found the whole cycle of bills. It's possible (knock on wood quickly) that she may be able to resolve this mess. Fingers crossed.

1:36 p.m. Update

After three and a half hours, we have a partial resolution. And in theory, I'll be receiving an email confirmation of the partial credits. The rest of the credits will be sorted out--supposedly--over the next few days, and the latest (very nice) CSR has assured me that their "special team" will be resolving any credit issues from this.

Fingers still crossed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

friday fun - the tv edition

The other night, my friend Jack and I were talking about TV we watched growing up in the seventies and eighties. There was one question that we kept coming back to: How did we go from this

and this

to this

and this


Friday, February 22, 2008

friday fun - the early edition

Some musical discoveries you make late, and by accident. This is one. I just stumbled on Josh Ritter, and I think I have a couple CDs to buy soon...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

fever - not the song

Banana was up to 103.8 after I got home at 6:30. Now, almost three hours later, she's up to 104.6. She's sleeping hard, and I'm worried about a late night emergency room run. I'm also trying to console myself with memories of the times my grandmother weathered me through the worst of a fever before it broke.


So my week, which was already unnecessarily busy, has been further hijacked by a fever. Poor Banana woke me this morning to say her head hurt. When I touched her hand, it was hot and shaking. A quick temperature check later confirmed that she wouldn't be going to school today, and that the rest of my week was suddenly a question mark.

The bright spot? The very sweet moment when she told me I could have the last two pieces of the apple I gave her to eat while she watched TV. (Now, if I could only translate that sweet sharing to the moments when she is playing other kids, we'd be fine.)

awesome visions of the City of the future

This is just classic. The brilliant worlds possible with technology as we envisioned it decades ago are remarkable to look at now. Especially when you realize how far we haven't come.

(via Gothamist)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday fun - another 80s edition

So, yeah, light posting this week. That's the kind of week it has been. Maybe later, after a few pints and some adult time away from kids, maybe then I'll have something worth writing about. In the meantime, Banana was demonstrating some ballet moves earlier in the week, and I swear at least one of them must have been from this video...

Monday, February 11, 2008

design and ad fun

As part of a project I've been working on at home, I've been poring through several turn-of-the-century copies I have of North American Review, Harpers, and the Atlantic Monthly. There are some real gems of classic type and art, not to mention a certain degree of hilarity.

Verizon sucks, pt. 7,001

I shouldn't have to write this post, particularly after the last round we had to go through on this saga. But I do. Because I got another letter from a different collections agency seeking to collect the $505.91 bill that was supposed to have been wiped out in the summer, and then again in October. But somewhere down in the system it wasn't.

This means that I have been trying to get this mess cleared up since July. And that's just the billing portion.

This kind of inattentive idiocy is simply unconscionable and unbelievable. Even the CSRs who have actually tried to help me navigate some of this mess have been befuddled by the complications that seemed to start with a poorly recorded move order and a subsequent call to clear up the billing foul-ups related to that order. Every fucking part of this saga stems from those two phone calls and the inability of those two CSRs to record correct changes.

To wit, and to repeat... for the hell of it:
  • I placed the initial order to move my service from my old house to my new house the week before Memorial Day. When I had, in fact, moved and called to find out why the tech hadn't come out to make the switch on the day I had taken off work, I was told that there was no record of the change order. To their credit, they had a tech out on that Saturday to do the install. That tech decided not to install a new router or set-top box because I already had the right ones. Fast forward six weeks...
  • I receive a bill for service at both my old house and my current house. The bill also includes charges for the equipment. I get on the phone the next day with the business office to clear up the issues. The CSR is very nice and assures me she understands the situation. She understands it so well that she turns off the service at both locations. Madness ensues as I get on the line with CSR after CSR to resolve the situation. This process takes nearly two weeks.
  • As part of the resolution, I am guaranteed that all of the outstanding bills—including any outstanding bills from before the move—will be closed. I am also given a month's free service. Yet here we are seven months later and the situation is still dogging me.

Words don't cover the absurdity of this. The pity is that I very much like my service, but the inability of the various levels at Verizon to deal effectively with a clear and documented screw-up on their part is patently absurd.

Anybody know how to get up the chain with Verizon FiOS corporate to resolve this?


Friday, February 08, 2008


Carbonara truly is a dish that reminds you how good life can be. With approximately six ingredients and the perfect balance of savory and cheesy, and peas to add a bit of sweetness and texture, it is simplicity in form and purpose. Like life, it also takes a few tries to learn how to make well.

As a disclaimer: it is also the antithesis of vegan dishes. Sorry to my vegan friends.

That's all for now.

friday fun

Further proof from the Electric Company that my generation was raised on entertainment made by people who were very, very stoned...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I was chatting with a friend of mine earlier this evening about the directions life takes us. He asked, "So do you see yourself leaving Richmond?"

"No," I answered. "Not for the time-being. Too much has happened over the past few years, and I'd hate to do that to Banana or myself. Besides, we've got a pretty good life building here." It's the truth. We do have a good network of friends and family in Richmond now, and there has been too much upheaval in recent years. For all of my running and moving over the years, it's nice to cool my heels and make an effort at calling some place home.

"Yeah," John said. "I can see how it would be awfully difficult to move some place like New York or Boston as a single dad with a school-age child and everything else you've got going on. It would be pretty daunting."

But that's where I disagreed with him. I said, "After everything that I've been through in the past few years, nothing seems that difficult." This was true, too. From the emotional ups and downs since 2004 and after the shooting, nothing seems impossible. You just survive and muddle through, and find the best, most positive way of adjusting to the transience of life. Then you figure out what the problems are and solve them as best you can.

It's all risk and reward, and the best you can hope for is that you made a good decision.

random musings for Wednesday

I could write long posts on any of these, except I can't because my spare time seems to have evaporated along with winter...
  • I am completely psyched that Trader Joe's (!) and Whole Foods have finally decided to crack the Richmond market (pun fully intended). I am disappointed, however, that neither company chose to reuse an existing structure, thereby reducing the amount of unnecessary building and traffic-inducing sprawl.
  • Stress is general all across the land. No one I know ever seems to have enough time for all the things that need to get done. And no matter how efficient you try to be, there is always the chance that something will throw off the daily rhythm. And increase the stress.
  • The developing Democratic primary race is fascinating. No matter what happens, this will be an historic election. And no matter what happens I don't think Nuts McCain will win.
  • I have never been a pro football fan in my life, but I still found myself cheering out loud during the last two minutes of the Super Bowl.
  • It is forecast to hit 80 degrees in Richmond today. In February.
  • I have lived with one variety of pain or another for 317 days. But when life gets me (or you) down, think of sun and water.

Back to ticking things off my to-do lists.

Monday, February 04, 2008

super bowl ads

First: Go New York!

Second: These are the ads that rose to the surface (or at least stuck with me) through this year's crop of ads—a crop that seemed to be heavily tilted toward movie references...
  • Audi R8 — Beyond the fact that the car is outrageously cool, the rich man waking up with the decapitated grill of his Rolls next to him was a brilliant homage.
  • Budweiser, the Rocky ad — As cheesy as this one was, it made me and everyone else in the room laugh.
  • Bud Light with Will Ferrell — I will have to find this one on YouTube. Sentences don't do it justice.
  • — The heart jumps out of her body and trots into the boss's office to quit. A little silly, but effective nonetheless.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

PTSD updates

The odd thing about the psychological after-effects of the shooting is that they seem to have very little to do with actual physical discomfort. They also rarely come with the shocking realization that I was shot or that I was one inch from death. Now, the impact is subtler.

It comes at moments as happened this weekend when I realized that I was taking my first real hike with Reilly since just before the shooting. Or over the past couple of weeks when I realized that the last creative project I did went to press the week before the shooting. What comes from these parallel realizations is the recognition of how stuck I have been in the past ten months.

And it's not even in big ways such as these. No. It's in small moments when I stall out, when I don't know what I'm supposed to do next or why. This is beyond flashbacks. It's deeper, subtler, and in some ways scarier.

There are also the moments--and these are often lately--that I find myself touching the entry and/or exit scars. The action is absent-minded, but it is a reflection of the fact that I never--for a single minute of any day--forget that I was shot. It never goes away, dammit.

Friday, February 01, 2008

friday Fun - ad hilarity

As Steve Hall at AdRants describes it, this spot
leaves behind last year's Maposaurus for this year's Napoleon who, after racing through the streets of France (anachronistically in a car?), arrives to command his troops but has to hide that nifty yet-to-be invented Garmin navigational device, hence the explanation for his famed placement of his hand inside his coat. Witty enough. Catchy tunes. Just not sure we get that whole time shift/travel thing.

Find more videos like this on AdGabber