Monday..Sep 17 2007 | 07:48pm:

Aloha from the Ihilani resort at Ko Olina, Oahu!!!

Talk about a bit of a shock. My beautiful wife, mazisexton, outdid herself for my birthday this year. She had told me that she'd a surprise planned, and that it would be getting here on Saturday morning. The surprise turned out to be an Airport Limo. As we drove out, she informed me that we were going to the airport to catch a plane out to Hawaii, and that the next week had a variety of activities mapped out on Oahu.

We arrived that evening, after an uneventful and equally unpleasant flight. Then yesterday -- my birthday proper -- I got to go out for a surf lesson all morning (I suck, but it's a lot of fun anyway). I then spent the afternoon on the beach with Mazi & Rah. Later, I found out that I've picked up a sunburn -- in of all places -- the back of my knees. No, of course I didn't put sunscreen there. I figured I'd be chest deep in the ocean all day, so where's the risk. Evidently, I must have had them exposed long enough while I was on my stomach paddling my surfboard out to the waves. Ouch! :P

"And what about today", you're wondering? Well, we got up at about 5 in the morning for this:

And two more pics beneath the cut...

More pretties...Collapse )

Yes, these are the actual photos we took today, and not stock images ripped off some nature site. Those are 10-12 foot Tiger Sharks, and they were so close to the shark cage that we could have reached out and touched them (not that I did; I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid). The good pics were snapped by Mazi, since I got all overexcited and started trying to chase them as they circled the enclosure. Vertigo kicked in, followed quickly by motion sickness, so I spent about a third of the cage time losing my breakfast.

After about twenty minutes, they reeled us in. It was pretty trippy. They normally get Sandbar and Galapagos Sharks, which can be very beautiful to watch. If you're out free in the ocean, these species -- particularly the Sandbar -- can be annoying to a diver, but won't really do anything more than nip at you at best. The Tigers, however, are considerably more impressive. They will circle the cage, then vector straight in to the bars (the other sharks beat it out of there fast when they showed up, BTW) and you can even see their eyes roll back as they butt the cage. They didn't seem as if they were *really* interested in having us for a meal, but you don't need to stretch your imagination very far to visualize what a real attack must look like.

Rah-Rah even came with us out for the trip. Little guy wasn't afraid of the sharks at all, but did freak out with all the bobbing and churning when we got him into the water. They reeled him back in and he spent the rest of the time helping the deckhands feed/chum the sharks, as well as a few local birds that showed up to scavenge.

The rest of the week: well, I've got more surfing tomorrow, then we fly over to Kona (on the Big Island) Wednesday to snorkel with a school of Manta Rays. Back to Oahu on Thursday for a lecture at the University of Hawaii's Center for Japanese Studies. Friday is a jaunt over to Molokai for the day, and Saturday is a rest day before flying home Sunday.

Boy, when my wife plans a birthday surprise, she really knows how to plan a birthday!!! :)

_ mood: cheerful.
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Tuesday..Dec 12 2006 | 02:27pm: Lately, I've taken to getting up first thing in the morning (i have to go roust the little tiger out of bed and chase him into the the bathroom before he has an accident), then dressing Rah-Rah and taking him out with me to get coffee. This is so Mazi can sleep in longer.

We pulled up by Peet's this morning, and had to park around the corner next to the local comic shop. Recently they've put up a big red-neon Superman logo in their front window.

Rah: "A Superman shop! A Superman shop! Papa! Can we go into the Superman shop?!?"

Me: "Oh no, little guy. If we go in there, we'll get lost for hours."

Rah: "No we won't, Papa! Lookit, there's the door!"

Sometimes I feel like the straight man in a Rodney Dangerfield routine.... :P

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Wednesday..Dec 06 2006 | 11:00pm: ...that's the last time I get whacked out on cough syrup just to get through a funeral. :P

_ mood: drained.
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Friday..Aug 25 2006 | 02:15am: Picked this up from the Big Medicine email list. Heh, fun!!!

Quick do this:

1- Go to

2- Type in the word "Failure"

3- Look at the first listing.

4- Tell other people before the people at Google Fix it

_ mood: amused.
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Thursday..Mar 09 2006 | 01:39am: If you had me alone...locked up in your house for twenty-four hours and I had to do whatever you wanted me to, what would you do with me?

All replies will be permanently screened because it's a secret.

Then repost this in your LJ.

You might be surprised with the responses you get. mood: tired.
Tuesday..Jan 24 2006 | 01:43am: Wow!

My wife, mazisexton, got inspired and made up new themes for us based on the Samurai Champloo characters. Hers is based on Mugen, and mine on Jin.

This looks great! If you're viewing this from your web page and aren't already seeing it, click HERE. Go ahead, I'll wait...

It never ceases to amaze me what she can put together in only a couple of hours when the muse hits her.


-- mood: impressed.
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Monday..Jan 02 2006 | 11:38pm: mazisexton to ferrelux:
"Presents...?!? I like presents. Lots of presents that are shiny and sparkly and go 'boop, boop, boop'.

Quick, write that down!"

Duly noted and written down... :P mood: quixotic.
Thursday..Dec 22 2005 | 05:20pm: I feel like a wrung-out washcloth. I hurt all over.

Obviously, I must have gone to the gym today.

One of the things about using a personal trainer (there were 12 sessions that came as a "sign-up-now incentive" with our gym membership, and we're only just using them) is that there's somebody standing there who knows exactly how far to push you before you puke your guts up.


And in other news, temperatures here in Chicago soared high into the mid-30's today. Given the frigid weather of the last week or two, it felt like Summer had come early. Hell, I briefly considered taking a walkabout in t-shirt and shorts even.

That is so sad...

I'm really starting to miss Thailand about now.

(ow!) mood: uncomfortable.
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Tuesday..Dec 20 2005 | 03:20pm: FBI Ramps Up Domestic Surveillance

Staying true to the ghost of good ol' J. Edgar, it looks like the FBI is playing fast and loose with the expanded surveillance provisions created under the US Patriot Act.

Like abuse of power comes as any great surprise here.... mood: annoyed.
Thursday..Dec 15 2005 | 02:37pm: Coffee is really kicking in today. Got a mild case of the jitters and a little nausea from the speediness.

Joy. I'm going to meet another buddy of mine in a couple hours. We're getting together in -- you guessed it -- a coffee shop. I'd consider getting something non-caffeinated, but I'll probably be crashing by that time and need another stim-boost to keep from going comatose in the middle of the conversation.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of a wannabe speed freak. :P mood: hyper.
Thursday..Dec 15 2005 | 02:15pm: 'Beckham Of Sumo' Says Just Doing His Job

I began to pick up a taste for Sumo while we were in Japan earlier this year (not that I'm a big sports fanatic; I was just looking for something to take my mind off the culture shock).

While the various 'gaijin' in the sport piqued my curiosity in general, this guy caught my attention immediately. That was because -- while most Sumo seems to consist of the rather uninteresting practice of watching two big fat guys slapping bellies until the bigger one pushes the other out of the ring -- Kotooshu actually seems to apply some strategy to the match.

After stopping the initial charge, he seems to assess where his opponents' balance and inertia are leading them, then applies Aikido-like moves to use his opponents' own strength against them and throw them out of the ring. Sweet!

Unfortunately, his one current weakness seems to be Mongolian-born Sumo Grand Champion Asashoryu. In every match I've seen between the two of them, Kotooshu seems to lose his head for strategy and just tries to bull it out with Asashoryu. Of course, Asashoryu is bigger and stronger, so taking him on these terms means Asashoryu will probably end up victorious.

Still, Kotooshu is an extremely young Sumo (especially to have come so far so fast). Give it some time to work out his 'celebrity jitters' and I'm sure he'll end up on top before long. mood: bouncy.
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Wednesday..Dec 14 2005 | 06:49pm: I'm fast losing faith in any sort of useful service we are receiving from the Post Office.

I am simply amazed at the amount of pure and utter shite that comes here from the USPS. Literally, catalogs/junk mail & bills. All of the catalogs we've never signed up for in the first place, but they've merely taken it upon themselves to send us this crap. And nearly all the bills I already know the details of before they send me a statement; I've usually checked them online and paid them before they're printed. 99.9% of this junk goes straight into the trashcan the minute it comes in the door.

And a voluminous amount of crap it is, especially with the "holiday season" upon us, and every outlet for capitalism screaming for their share of our giftgiving dollars. I'm pulling pounds of dead trees out of our mailbox (and off the floor to our apartment's entrance, where the flyers get dumped) on a daily basis.

It doesn't help that our local Post Office is full of idiots, either. For instance, not 24 hours after we returned from Japan, we received a nasty phone call from the local office demanding, "When are you going to come by and pick up all this mail?" Still somewhat jet-lagged, I stopped by and got it the next day, but since we were about to leave for three weeks for WWF, I filled in another hold mail form.

From the counter clerk, "What? So you're picking up your mail and you're putting it back on hold again? Who told you you could do that!!!"

Me (somewhat peeved at this point): "Nobody told me I could do that. Nobody *has* to tell me I can do that!"

Clerk: "Let me get your local delivery person!" (storms off in a huff).

Now, our regular delivery person is the only individual at this whole branch who is at least mildly competent. She understood exactly what we were doing and had no issues with it. However, the only way she can stay sane is to spend half her time using up her vacation jetting down to Jamaica with her girlfriends, so we only see her perhaps three days a week. The rest of the time we only see a rotating roster of subs who don't have a clue about the neighborhood.

At this point, the only value the USPS is adding to my life is the occasional Ebay seller which insists on using them rather than UPS or FedEx.

This from a person who fifteen years ago used to practically live by books like Ivan Stang's "High Weirdness by Mail", or the periodic issue of Factsheet Five. Before the Internet, 'zines, newsletters and mail from kook organizations were the only ways to get any real information, stay sane, or at least remain moderately entertained. The US Post *used* to be one of the few lifelines by which people who wanted something more than the prescribed mass-media culture could connect. Huge(!) tomes like the "Whole Earth Catalog" were published just to give people pages and pages of pointers to relevant resources. And I used to <*gasp*> LOOK FORWARD to picking up the mail.

No longer. The USPS has pretty much been rendered irrelevant, and, from the looks of it, incompetent as well.

As a rule, I'm not one who believes in privatizing government functions, but this is one I'd definitely consider. Like the deconstruction of the New Deal (where Congress found unconstitutional all the good works established by Roosevelt, but left the only crappy one -- Social Security -- in place), we've got everything bass ackward again. We should've socialized Health Care and privatized the Post.

Now, does anybody know how I can get all this shit out of my mailbox...? mood: aggravated.
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Monday..Dec 12 2005 | 10:24am: Just thought I'd upload a pic of the new toy, so people could figure out what I'm babbling on about.

12-string Grand Chapman StickCollapse )

This photo was taken by the person I bought the instrument from, so the image quality carries all standard disclaimers. However, for those of you who have never seen one, this sorta shows why I look like Gurney Halleck with this thing hung around my neck. <--- (obligatory "Dune/Patrick Stewart" reference) mood: groggy.
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Sunday..Dec 11 2005 | 11:30pm: Okay, I'm trying to keep the "music-geek" related posts here down to a minimum, but there are some days where that's how I end up using all my time, so...

Spent most of the past couple of days playing with my new Chapman Stick, which explains why I'm so tardy with getting this journal working.

This instrument is a used 12-string Grand I picked up, and I have no fucking clue what the previous owner did to it. My suspicion is that he was making his own adjustments to the bridge and truss rod, and obviously didn't entirely know what he was doing. Think about it: you've got 12 strings attached to what amounts to a big flexible plank. Every time you retension or adjust one string, it's going to screw with the adjustment of the other eleven strings ever so slightly. And if you happen to be the ambitious sort who just jumps in ands start tweaking all twelve strings? Yeah, there's an entertaining afternoon for a junior Mr. Wizard...

So the action on this thing is like half-an-inch off the fretboard, and I've had to tune it down by two whole steps just to get enough slack in the strings to fret them without causing me to bleed. While the strings in the upper register no longer cut my fingers, this now makes the bass strings so loose that they rattle when you play them. Argh! I'm going to have to send it back to the manufacturer for a full setup sometime soon (not that big a deal, since I'm having a MIDI pickup installed, so I'll get them to set everything right again). Before I lose my new acquisition to them for a few weeks, though, I'm going to get a little bit of enjoyment out of it first, dammit.

All that said, however, this thing sounds amazing. Which is why I've spent the last two days lost in it.

Yesterday, I tried getting it working plugged into a little headphone practice amp. It ate up most of the day just trying to work out a decent tone (not to mention fighting with the fretboard). Sometimes the effect models on the headphone amp are nice, depending on the instrument. Sometimes they're really crappy, though. Most of them fell into the latter category, and I finally went to bed somewhat less than satisfied.

Today, I was sitting at the 'puter first thing this morning checking email, and my Yamaha UD-Stomp just happened to catch my eye. The UD-Stomp is a high-quality delay (echo) unit that I got cheap on Ebay based mostly on recommendations from some pals of mine. I got a really good deal on it mostly 'cause hardly anybody knows what the darn thing is or does. Since getting it, I've never really had a chance to put it through its paces. But it has a headphone jack, and I just happened to get curious...

I plugged the Stick into the UD, then dialed in a little chorus and only a tad of delay. Nothing that sounded really effect-laden; just a little sweetening, so I'm hearing the natural sound of the Stick with a little room ambience.


Despite the whacked out action, the low end is nice and tight, like the bass in some of the better funk/metal outfits -- think, perhaps, of Living Color or Linkin' Park. I start playing some runs on the upper strings and find the high end has a really *sweet* strat-like tone. I start adding some vibrato and some slinky bends. Suddenly, I'm catching hints of Stevie Ray Vaughn. The same sort of tone you'd hear him use in his cover of Hendrix's "Little Wing", for instance.

Now, I'm now a huge fan of any those particular artists. In fact, I'm far more likely to be listening to an Orbital or Skinny Puppy album than any of the above. However, I do know quality when I hear it, and this thing has the best tone of any non-electronic instrument I own. And you can't twist something into an interesting end-product if you don't start with a good tone to begin with.

About Eleven PM I finally take it off and put it away. I've probably been playing off-&-on for a good eight to ten hours, and it doesn't feel like a quarter of that.

I can hardly wait to try running it through the computer and really start mangling it...
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Sunday..Dec 11 2005 | 11:26pm: ...Somebody's going to slap me upside the head. Anyway, I think this thing's almost ready to use -- just need to fine-tune a few things and find a journal style that doesn't make me want to puke. Y' big deal.
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Old Enough To Know Better // Old Enough To Do It Anyway

I am married to a gorgeous woman, we have one wonderful son together, I am retired, I am a musician, and I have blue hair. If you want to know anything else: just ask.

This account is for my day-to-day life (read: ranting). If you are interested in my music projects (which involve looping and computer music) you can find more at m3ch and behindthecouch. This layout was made by my wife.