Lost in time

I got on Seattle time this morning. Now it's about 5:15 in the morning and I'm back off of Seattle time. It just takes one long phone call to Australia to kill your schedule.
For the life of me I couldn't remember how to dial an international number from the states (you need to first dial the international direct dial code, which is 011). Hmm. Since the country code for Australia is 61, that meant I woke up a lot of people in what I presume was the Boston area. Yikes. To all of those people who cursed me out, and those I hung up on, my deepest apologies. I deserved every four-letter word. With the thick Boston accents I wasn't quite sure what was being said, but the tone of voice left little to the imagination.
Sliding down memory lane

Got all my slides and negatives back today. Most of them came out, too, save a few stray shots taken when my shutter was closed or that brief period when my batteries crapped out and every other picture came out black.
I need a smaller, lighter camera to take with me into places where I couldn't or wouldn't bring my F100. I see gaps in my pictures, events and people and places, and I wish I had some photos to keep them fresh in my mind. And when you're out at a club or a bar and just want a picture of you and your inebriated companions, who cares about picture quality? Especially when posting to the web. I need a really thin, small, digital camera.
Well, next time. And nothing beats looking at slides on a light table with a loupe. That's about as close to seeing it with my own eyes again as I can get. Tomorrow I need to write down as much of the specifics of my trip as possible before it fades into history. My photos will help refresh my memory. Given my past ratios of success, I'd say I did okay this time around. About a little more than half of the photos are decent and usable which is pretty good. Throw out the five hundred photos I wasted on obscure dolphin fins and sperm whales off in the distance and I'd say about 3 out of 4 of my pics were ones I'll keep. Since I shot 17 rolls of 36, that's a lot of friggin slides to scan into my computer.
New Zealand's scenery helped. It's what you call postcard country. Everywhere you point your camera and click the shutter? Instant postcard. If my PC doesn't drive me crazy tomorrow, you may catch your first glimpse of some of my NZ and Oz shots.
New Zealand and Australian soundtrack

Clubbing in NZ and Australia, you get a feel for what's going down in the music world. Wouldn't you know it, the cool kids overseas listen to pretty much the same stuff you hear on the radio over here.
Let's see, I have to start with Eminem. Lots of Eminem. It wasn't a night out if I didn't hear Lose Yourself at some club. Good tune, but it always inspires thug dancing and mugging. Not attractive.
Creed?! Sure, you can label someone a snob if they raise their noses at popular music, but when I have to put up with garbage like Creed out clubbing I can understand where they're coming from. Not only is it destined for tomorrow's trash heap, it's also impossible to dance to.
Red Hot Chili Peppers. Haven't heard their new album, but By the Way is a good tune. Not really a dance tune but you can jump around and karaoke.
Kylie. Grrrrrrrr. We'd be out clubbing, drinking, yapping our heads off, and then suddenly a tune from Fever would come on, and Kylie would appear on the video screen, 15 feet tall, and everyone in the club would stop and stare, transfixed. Australia's sex kitten, purring "Come....come....come into my world." Every guy was ready to follow. What a great dance album.
If Michael Jackson is the monstrosity plastic surgery wishes to lock in the cellar, Kylie Minogue is the its poster child. Good lord. Speaking of which, if you don't have a copy of Kylie singing Can't Get You Out of My Head over New Order's Blue Monday, get thee to a file sharer straight away to download it. She's performed that mash in concert, and it's awesome.
Nelly. Hot in Here. I thought it had peaked at clubs here in the US but apparently, as with movies, everything lags by about half a year there in the Southern Hemisphere. Can't stand ten seconds of it on the radio, but in a dance club context it's groovable.
Back to the negatives. NZ and Oz are not immune to dreck like YMCA by the Village People and the Ketchup Song. Stuff like that, most of which I've erased from memory. It's like the wave at a sporting event. Exercise your freedom as a human being and resist. They'll tell you you're having fun, but you really aren't.
Down Under by Men at Work. Hearing it in Australia put it in a whole new light for me because I finally had a taste of . Packets of it could be found at breakfast each morning, next to the butter and jam. I tried it and will do it a favor by labeling it the Spam of the Southern Hemisphere.
The highlight for me was the first bar we visited in the Bay of Islands. One stretch of classic techno--
Alice Deejay, ATB, New Order...good stuff.

Sharon sent me this pic today of Alan and my new nephew Ryan. How beautiful is that?

@#$*&ing Windows

Okay, Macs are slower, but I'm really about ready to kick my Windows desktop over the edge of the deck here. Since Windows XP crapped out my CD-RW drive I installed a new one today, one that's supposed to be compatible with Windows XP and Roxio Easy CD Creator 5. I updated all the drivers for Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 off of their website. All of this took hours since my PC now takes about 30 minutes to boot after the Windows XP upgrade and I had to restart it several times.
Go to burn a CD. No luck. Easy CD Creator 5 engine failed to initialize. Go to the Roxio website and they claim they've had a rash of these because of antivirus software. So I disable that and try again. Same error. I update some more drivers and reboot. Half hour later? No dice.
I also get these annoying "Your paging file is too small" errors everytime I boot. It tells me to set a larger paging file. So I do. Then I have to reboot. Then the same error comes up again. I'm flipping my computer the middle digit the whole time, with both hands.
Fortunately I finally found some random program that Sony included with its CD-RW drive. I think I've got it working. I'll need it to burn all the photos from New Zealand and Australia to CDRs b/c my hard drive is getting really full.
Yes, Macs are slower, but damn if my laptop didn't work beautifully the whole trip. I could take digital photos from my travel buddies and load them into iPhoto and have a slideshow going in minutes. I could import digital video from my camcorder and burn movies onto CDs for other folks in about half an hour. Yeah, sure, you can do all these things on a Windows PC but you'd be sweating driver compatibility the whole way. I'm not quite ready to sign up for a Switch commercial, but outside the business environment I dread having to go to my Windows desktop for anything.
Alas, that's the only platform my slide and negative scanner is compatible with. I have hours of fun ahead of me, what with Photoshop crashing after every four photos I open and edit because my virtual memory is too low.
The only book I buy every year

I should stop writing about baseball because I don't think any of you give a damn, but I can't help it. Little League and years of watching the Cubs on WGN have distilled baseball into my blood.
There's one book I pre-order every year and await with the eagerness of a groom on his wedding night, or a young child on Christmas Eve. That book would be the annual Baseball Prospectus. This year's version is the best yet, with a whole new set of statistics and expanded player coverage.
I'm not sure how many times I've plugged Baseball Prospectus, but if they'd start putting out crap I'd stop. Move up to the next level of baseball understanding and buy yourself a copy.
Blog as vanity plate

Katie ranted about the blog as self-congratulatory exercise in vanity tonight, and I must admit that much of what she said is true. There's a certain presumptiousness in boring the world with the mundane details of your everyday life, and who really cares what I think about this or that anyway? In that respect, I almost crave to keep the visitors to my site at a minimum. And maybe I should reduce the frequency of my posts--perhaps I'm guilty of using this as a writing outlet at times. Maybe 2003 is the year I cut back my posts.
You can twist yourself into a pretzel trying to please your audience, too. Just who is my audience anyway? Random people from all over the place, who know me in all different contexts. Perhaps a large audience is a good thing. They keep you honest, because most will disappear if you sling too much BS. If no one was reading, would I still be writing? I had about one visitor a week for the first two months, and I never really publicized my site, but somehow one day suddenly all these random people were reading it. I have no idea how they found my site, and I still don't know who half of them are, but I read the traffic reports and they're there.
Of course, most my readers are too embarrassed to admit they visit my site, or if they do visit, it's a dirty secret. Boy, let me tell you, that's a great feeling. This must be what it feels like to be People magazine.
And what about blogging about blogs, like I'm doing now? That must be the ultimate in intellectual masturbation (I can't remember where I read that term, but it makes you cringe, and that's exactly the punishment you want to mete out to those guilty of perpetrating it).
I'm overthinking this. Why am I thinking about this right now anyway? Self-conscience is a terrible thing.

Johnny, my tour guide in New Zealand, was fond of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey, but tonight out at Mr. Lucky's I discovered the joys of Jameson's Irish Whiskey. Peter, clearly a scotch and whiskey aficionado, has set me on the path of goodness and there's no turning back.
American bourbon? As Johnny put it, f***ing swill.
Use it or lose it

Speaking of Mr. Lucky's, I met a few friends out for drinks tonight. Just as Tour de France bike racers have to get out even on their two days off during the Tour just so their body doesn't go into shock from not being pushed to the limit, I need to keep my liver primed and active in anticipation of Carnival in Rio. I'm not doing my gut any favors, but I suppose another week won't hurt.
I'm less worried about drinking myself to death in Rio than of getting shot. At least four people sent me e-mail links to articles about the recent violence in Rio, suspected to be caused by gangs. City of God may hit a little too close to home this weekend. I'll have to keep my head down and steer clear of danger.
Speaking of drinking...

Must send out props to Laura, who was one of the folks who showed up for drinks tonight. She thinks she doesn't get enough airtime here, and yet she definitely rallies for fun nights out more than just about anyone else here in Seattle (and after 4 weeks of living large in NZ and Oz I'm acutely aware of how slow my social life here is).
So Laura, your very own post. BTW, Laura also organized a birthday dinner for me this year, and since it was my last day in the office it was a doubly special event. It's also the last birthday I'll ever celebrate since next year that first digit is supposed to change (and after 4 weeks of living large with mostly younger kids in NZ and Oz, many of whom like to remind me of my age, I'm really hyper-tuned to my life clock...TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, what have you done with your life old man?).

The Libeskind design for a memorial at Ground Zero has won. The slide show outlining the ideas behind the design are really intriguing.
I don't profess to know much about architecture, but the various Frank Lloyd Wright houses and buildings I've walked through are so inspirational. There aren't many things in life I have to have personalized for me, but it would be amazing to design your own home with an architect. How sad, that we must always live in someone else's conception of an ideal shelter, especially when our physical reaction to space is so personal.
Someday, perhaps, a place of my own.