If you get the reference in the title of this post, you are way cool, but in fact our dogs cannot eat quite a whole watermelon (even though I’m sure they’d like to try). During the summer, a little bit of cold melon has become a big favorite of both Elsa and Zoey, so tonight I decided to get a snap of them getting their fruit scraps and making a bit of a mess in the kitchen.

Yes, this household is a bit silly.

Elsa and Zoey eat Watermelon

Contax Zeiss Ikon CameraI used to thrift a lot, but over the course of the past few years I’ve sort of let my habit dwindle, only stopping once in awhile to see if I can find a decent pair of pants, a dress shirt, or a vintage tie. I usually scan the book shelves, spin through the electronics isle, and look at what’s usually a sad and discarded pile of CDs.

Today, though, I was at a local thrift store when I saw an old camera laying in a bin of stuff that still needed to be put out on the floor. At first I thought it might be another cheap clunker knockoff, but after checking it out a bit more, I realized that it was the real deal.

So, for $3.99 I got myself a vintage 50s Zeiss Ikon Contax camera. It’s one of the most solid 35mm cameras I’ve hoisted in my hands, blowing away my already nice Canon AE-1. It has a built-in light meter and lots of other neat little features. The best part of the whole deal is that it looks like it’s barely been used at all. The shutter works like a charm at all speeds, the lens doesn’t have a single scratch on it, and it doesn’t seem to have any issues at all. As a photo major in college, I was more than a little bit giddy to run across such a nice find.

Race by Studs TerkelBack when I was in college, I worked for a writing center on campus. One of the rooms that we used for conferences had an entire wall that was covered by a bookshelf with titles on it that I never pulled out to read. I did scan over the titles, though, and the book Race stuck out at me simply because the authors name was Studs Terkel and in the mind of an 18 year old, that seemed kinda funny to me.

As you can probably tell if you’ve looked at this site any in the past two years, I have obviously become a huge fan of Mr. Terkel. To date, I’ve read five of his books and plan on reading everything he’s compiled at some point in the future. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he’s one of the best distillers of perceptions and language that I’ve ever read. His books have numerous, numerous instances of “normal” everyday people who say some of the most profound, beautiful, and meaningful things that I’ve read in the past five years.

I’m a person who likes good documentary films, and that’s usually because of the people and the personalities portrayed. One of the best things I can say about the books (especially Race) of Terkel is that when you’re reading them, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of an outstanding documentary film. He guides you through different passages with skill and ease, and even in short interviews of a couple pages, he manages to paint vivid pictures of the lives and people he’s interviewing.

If it seems like I’m gushing, I am. As far as I’m concerned, Studs Terkel is a bit of a national treasure at this point. If you haven’t read any of his books, pick one up and get lost in it. If you’ve read his work and you know of other authors or collections of oral history style writings that you think I might enjoy, let me know.

I haven’t updated this site in some time, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first is that I’ve been insanely busy. I was out of town for a couple days at a web conference in Baltimore (more on that later, maybe) and life has been rather busy in general. In addition to that, I’ve been relegated to working on my older, backup computer for over a month now due to my powerbook being in the shop.

At any rate, last Monday I called Apple again after a series of breakdowns in repair and replacement times. I didn’t raise my voice at all, but was obviously frustrated, and was actually sent up the chain of command several levels. After I’d been on the phone for some time, I ended up talking to someone that looked through my long case history and flat out told me that Apple would get me a new computer.

Because they don’t make the powerbooks anymore, this meant that I got a new Macbook Pro. Needless to say, I was quite excited, although I tried to temper my enthusiasm until I had the machine in my hands.

One month and 5 days after Apple initially checked-in my old machine, I am now the official owner of a new Macbook Pro. I haven’t gotten everything up and running on it yet, but it’s clearly faster. Another nice gesture from Apple was to not only make sure that I had the same amount of RAM as my old machine, but max out Macbook with a whopping 2GBs. So yeah, it’s noticibly faster, and I can’t wait to really see what happens once I start chugging it away on Logic Pro.

And so that’s the end of the story for now. I don’t have any image editing software on here yet, so this post will go without a picture, but I have several posts I’ll be making in the near future to catch up on things (I managed to finish a book and start another on my recent trip).

Audio Culture by Christopher Cox and Daniel WarnerWhen I started out the “year of non-fiction” (as I’ve been calling it), one of my sub-goals was to also read a wide variety of material as well. Because I also write music reviews in my spare time, I figured that one area I would try to fill in some knowledge gaps was in the realm of music. Earlier this year, I’d read a book on the history of hip hop, and I thought it would also be nice to read a little bit more about the pioneers of electronic music.

Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music came recommended to me by several sources, and although I enjoyed it, it ultimately felt like a big grab bag of sorts. The major problem with the book is simply that it’s a collection of lots of different essays by a huge number of different authors. The writing styles are varied, and although the book is loosely structured into different themese, ultimately the voices of the authors themselves shine through and make for a sometimes difficult read. For instance, the tone of the articles ranges from hardcore music theory to pseudo-intellectual (and using LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS to make a point) to downright jokey and playful at times.

The parts of the book that I enjoyed most were the essays written by the musicians that I follow closest, even though they were also some of the ones that I learned the least from. In the end, I came to realize that although music theory and breaking everything down is fun to talk about sometimes, I’m really just one of those people who wants to sit down and do it instead of trying to place everything on a grid.

What it boils down to is that I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to creating music. I’ve never learned to play an instrument, and when I make music it’s entirely by ear with lots and lots of trial and error. When people start talking about theory, I tend to want to run away and just smack my keyboard around for awhile and hope that something nice-sounding comes out. Hunting and pecking indeed.

Although I’ve always heard great things about Apple’s customer service, this was the fourth (yes, you read that correctly) weekend that my computer has been in for repair. When I first took my computer in, I was told it would take 3-5 days, but for the past 16 days the response for Apple has been that they’re “waiting on a part.”

Needless to say, in that span of time I’ve lost a lot of respect for Apple computers. Since I bought my Powerbook, I’ve been a big fan of it and even tried to fight the the various problems that started cropping up. When the problems (outlined below) became too much to ignore, I finally had to bite the bullet and get it repaired. So, as mentioned, here’s what went wrong with my laptop…

  1. About three months after purchase, one of the USB drives stopped working completely (which wasn’t a huge issue, since I used a 4-port hub on the other port).
  2. About four months after purchase, all of my desktop icons suddenly started re-arranging themselves every time I turned on the machine (yes, this was annoying, but since I worked through the finder I again overlooked it).
  3. About a month ago (nearly as long as Apple has had my computer in repair), the Superdrive stopped working. This was the final straw, as I could no longer burn CDRs, nor read from CDs (although I could still burn DVDRs oddly enough).

In the time that my computer has been AWOL, I’ve been forced back onto my crappy desktop machine (running Windows 95), and I’ve actually become accustomed to it at this point. It’s a little bit slower at everything I try to do, but I’ve had it for 8 years and still have never had a single problem with it, whereas my Apple laptop had 3 separate issues within 8 months of buying it. Compounding my frustration is the completely slow repair time by Apple, considering that if they have it for 3 more days, it will have been in their possession 1/12th of my first year of ownership.

Apparently my repair case has become somewhat of a local legend where I work, though, as a co-worker I don’t see very often asked me about it at a meeting recently, mentioning that they’d heard someone else talking about the repair time in disbelief. I guess that’s kinda funny.

Or something.

How Would A Patriot Act by Glenn GreenwaldIn the midst of getting all bent out of shape about my laptop taking far too long to be repaired (no, I still don’t have it back almost 3 weeks later), I forgot to mention that I’d finished another book. Because it had been awhile since I’d read something political, I decided to dive into the short, but very excellent How Would A Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald. I’d first heard of Greenwald when I started reading his great blog Unclaimed Territory last year. In a short period of time, his site had become a daily must-read for me. His language is straightforward and to-the-point, and his ideas are clearly formed and have a lot of research behind them.

His first book (which is a very brisk 140 pages) is basically a fleshing-out of different posts that he’s made on his site in the past, but it’s a great way to fill in the specific gaps in terms of the different ways that the current administration has been picking away at the Constitution and using the global war on terror as an excuse.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use the phrase (or something like it), “Your civil liberties don’t mean a whole lot if you’re dead.” Greenwald puts that whole argument to bed pretty quickly in his book, defining the different (and rather underhanded and sly, as most people don’t seem to really even know the full level of it) circumventions and flat-out ignoring of laws that have gone on in the past five (and even longer) years.

Read this book and weap, or at least wonder when the next big tea party is going to happen.

Sad PowerbookAlthough I do quite enjoy the Powerbook that I got late last year, I’ve had some weird little issues cropping up with it in the past couple months. When it wouldn’t recognize a CDR (four different brands) last week to burn a disc, that was the last straw. I took it into the repair shop and it has been sent back to Apple for some repairs. I was hoping to have it back for the July 4th weekend so I could get some things done, but alas that wasn’t in the cards.

Because of this, I’ve been forced back onto my old desktop computer (a 400mhz, pentium 2 PC) in the basement. I hadn’t turned this machine on in months, and going back to it seems like a chore after being able to haul my Powerbook around and set it up anywhere.

Oh, and there’s a big spider crawling across the front of my monitor right now. Sweet.

Almost a month ago to the day, we took another little dog into our lives to keep it from going to the pound. With two dogs in our household already, we figured that a third wouldn’t be a whole lot more work, and at some points she really wasn’t. Unfortunately, Lucy just hadn’t gotten much obedience training at all in her life, and at other times she was a lot of work to manage (and clean up after). Although we were managing all three dogs fairly well after a couple weeks, it didn’t seem quite fair to our two original dogs, who had been displaced a bit by the newest puppy. Because of this, TG called the local Boston Terrier rescue contact about a week back and within less than a day they’d found a great home for Lucy, with a family who does obedience and agility training.

Even though she was a good bit of effort sometimes, it was definitely sad to see Lucy go. She was a loving little dog who really, really liked to play fetch and simply snuggle whenever someone would let her. Oftentimes while cooking dinner, she’d come into the kitchen and just sit by my feet, waiting until I was finished.
In only four weeks, she managed to secure the nicknames of “Gremilin” (her crooked ears), “Snorter” (she’d make a loud snorts right before she went to sleep) “Spider Monkey” (her climbing abilities, including over a dog gate), and “Turdburglar” (affectionately, due to her *ahem* sometimes disgusting eating habits). She will definitely be missed in this household, but we know that she’s going to a home where she can get loads of attention and she’ll make someone a good pet.

Lucy

We’ll miss you, Lulu.

062506_tennisball.jpgBecause we don’t have enough things to do (joke!), TG and I purchased tennis racquets this weekend. There are courts relatively close to our house and it seems like a sport that we can play together. TG had taken a racquet sports class in high-school and I’d played racquetball fairly seriously for a few years, so we figured it wouldn’t be as bad as starting from scratch.

As it turns out, I had a pretty rough adjustment the first day. Aaron and I met up on Saturday afternoon and batted the ball around and he took it pretty easy on me while I double-faulted around and generally played poorly. I did have a lot of fun, though, and was ready to head out and play again soon.

TG and I went out this afternoon and hit it around as thunderstorms threatened and I again had a good time. I made a mini-breakthrough on my serve and figured out my backhand a smidge more. I still tend to smack it into the net quite often, which I think comes from my years of ingrained racquetball baseline smashing. TG had a 3/4 angle serve that worked quite well for her and she dropped it in with some spin on an amazingly consistent basis. Had a good time, and I’m feeling a bit sore in a good way. Agassi is retiring soon, maybe I still have a chance…

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