Readings.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links,Rambling | Thursday 9 April 2009 2:08 pm

In a William Gibson mood these days… getting back to the father of cyberpunk’s roots.  Finished re-reading Burning Chrome and Neuromancer.  I have a huge literacrush on Molly Millions.

Sadly, I devoured the latest Discworld book, Making Money far too quickly.  I dig Terry Pratchett, and the entirety of the Discworld… world.  His characters are so flesh and blood real, and his writing just keeps getting better.  He’s not afraid to tackle serious topics, and his humor is both light and dark, and that suits me just fine.  Also read Nation, his latest non-Discworld book, and ripped through the Bromeliad trilogy, both of which are billed as “young adult” literature, but addresses some very adult topics (just like Pixar makes “kiddie” animated features… yeah, right).

Currently in the middle of re-reading David SedarisWhen You Are Engulfed In Flames.  Such acid wit, razor sharp and wilting… especially when he turns the beam on himself.  I think when I finish this I’ll be in the right frame of mind for…

Kurt Vonnegut.  What a fantastic writer, but so dark and sorrowful.  I have to be in the right frame of mind to read Vonnegut, I have to brace myself mentally before diving in to keep from being drug down with him.

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Hammock Away From Hammock.

Posted by DmentD | Domestica,House,Pictures | Wednesday 8 April 2009 7:50 pm

Sweets and I have been very busy these days, primarily on the weekends: working in the yard, making small improvements, doing some of the things on the long list of projects that we’ve wanted to accomplish around the house to make it more comfortable.  We’ve had almost two months worth of weekends spent in the yard, enjoying the mild weather while getting dirty and exhausted (unfortunately, not that way, you pervs).

The garden is starting to shape up as we are planting a few more things in it.  At this time there’s only about four different veggies in there, but that’s owing to the time of year, and the fact that we’re still learning how to start things from seed without killing them — most notably some of the herbs were left in the starter tray far to long, and they stayed too moist — live and learn.  Our garlic is growing like there is no tomorrow, and the peas and beans are just starting to take off and climb their poles.  Planted peanuts too, and they are growing fast!  In about a month, we’ll be able to transplant our bell pepper and jalapeño seedlings into their containers and see where that goes.

I’ve seeded/over-seeded the lawn with Argentine Bahia grass seed, but quizzically enough, it’s been too cold in the evenings for it the start germinating.  Let me repeat that:  It’s been too cold.  In central Texas.  During spring.  For grass seed to germinate.  *blink* *blink* At any rate, once the weather warms up at night, it ought to take off.

Continued work on the kitchen cabinet doors.  With Drew’s help (and his huge cache of tools) I built the new doors and assembled them, puttied all the nail holes and miter joints, sanded the living hell out of them and made them purdy, and stained and sealed them.  Currently I need to make the solid panels to install into the lower doors, and soon enough will come the glass for the top ones, then I can install everything and mark that project off the list.

Lastly, our hammock is finally usable again.  At the apartment I had it strung up on the patio, and that worked nicely.  Since we have no big trees to fasten our Yucatan-style hammock to in the back yard we opted to install a pair of 4″x6″ posts 2′ into the ground.  Well, that proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.  Welcome to Austin, where the ground is 6″ of soil, then limestone as deep as you care to go (as opposed to NOLA, where the ground is 6″ of soil then solid gray clay as deep as you care to go).  Digging that out with a standard post-hole-digger took 2 hours, a lot of sweat, left Sweets covered in dirt (as she was scooping the loose soil/stone out of the hole while laying flat on the ground), and  left my hands sore for three days — but it makes for a sturdy post!  We set the posts with concrete and let is dry for 24 hours.  They seem to be sturdy as can be.  Spent an hour the other evening under the shade of the trees, dappled sunlight playing across me, reading and listening to the bird chorus.  I was more relaxed than I had been in months.

The house is continuing to feel more and more like home, and for that matter, so is Austin.  It’s not that is hasn’t been “home”, but it’s finally seeping into my bones slowly but surely.  It doesn’t hurt that I have a wonderful girl that is making it her home along with me, and I feel like I’m getting my life back again.

Now, if we can just get Sweets a job that will be more than happy to get her a work visa, that would make things even better — that way we can stop worrying.  At least she has her externship lined up already, so that’s one less thing to lose sleep over.

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Where Them Wild Things Be.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links,Rambling | Thursday 26 March 2009 12:06 pm

You know, I never entertained the thought that the book Where the Wild Things Are would ever be anything other than the book it is.  Not that I disbelieved it could be translated to another medium (and it has already, frankly, in animated form — but it never took hold in the imaginations of the kids who loved the book), or that it was sacred or anything, but just… well… I dunno.

It’s always been that book I loved as a kid (along with the little known, but utterly fantastic How to Care for Your Monster), and that I still really adore to this day.  The monsters are beautifully drawn, and I have always had an affinity for Moishe (and he is, incidentally, hanging upside down in my office at work creating mischief… and reminding me to do the same), who I am just noticing I bear a resemblance to.

Well, they’ve been working on a movie adaptation of it for a little while now, and there is now a trailer out.  It’s still too early to tell, even from the sketchy trailer, if it has potential to be entertaining.  I’m holding on to guarded optimism.

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When Did I Become Such A Hippie?

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Domestica,House,Rambling,Reflection | Friday 20 March 2009 9:00 am

I have two rainbarrels.  I have a compost bin.  I take full advantage of Austin’s new bulk recycling services.  I’m going to be growing herbs, and I have seeds germinating for a vegetable garden.  At this rate it won’t be long before I’m half-baked, listening to the Grateful Dead and Phish, and eating an earth shoe while twisting my hair and beard into matted dreadlocks.

Seriously, I never thought I’d be this into this sort of thing.  For years I’ve wanted to grow an herb garden, but never got the momentum up to do it.  Enter Sweets, who comes from a society and culture, and specifically a family that have maintained a garden and have been growing part of their own groceries for many generations.  Almost every home has a garden space, and yards — even tiny ones — are commonly converted into vegetable gardens.  It’s a sensibility and value that’s passed down through the generations.

The big push for this sort of thing came during World War II, when England was not only diverting all its resources toward the war effort, but also reducing its dependency on outside supplies as supply vessels can easily be (and frequently were) sunk by enemy craft.  We here in the States, while being severely limited by rationing, were never crippled by the imminent threat to our very borders.  Growing vegetable gardens did become a means to supplement our personal food supply, but it wasn’t strictly a necessity — tightening a belt isn’t the same as not being able to get supplies at all.  Come the end of the war, we weren’t picking up the pieces after the Blitz and trying to get our country in order, and the need to grow food rapidly dwindled as the US got back up to speed and entered a new era of prosperity.

Even as the need diminished in the UK, the desire remained.  That sense of accomplishment and self reliance became a part of the DNA of the country as a whole, and gardening is a skill taught from parents and grandparents to children.

Nowadays, there is a renewed movement in the US starting to growing edibles again, and it’s in a small way influenced by a shrinking economy, but mostly it’s the sensibilities of the modern hippies/new-agers/tree-huggers/etc.  A new generation of folks are more environmentally conscious, and they’re making that thoughtfulness into a viable industry – the happy balance between good intentions and profitability, and that’s how you get the most people on board.  Recycling is gaining momentum in a lot of municipalities, folks are repurposing a lot of second-hand items and junk these days and there is a big, big push to take care of one’s own piece of the environment, and that includes growing a garden.

Sweets, interested in starting with an herb garden, suggested that we do so, and it snowballed into moving forward on a small vegetable garden.  We’re going to be growing the herbs in pots, in order to make them movable and reconfigurable.  We have a good spot for the garden proper, but we’re going to start small this year and expand as necessary in the seasons to come.  We’re looking at spring and fall plantings, and Austin climate being what it is, we ought to be able to keep fresh veggies of one sort or another in the house for the better part of the year.

Frankly, once the initial setup is done, there is minimal expense involved in maintaining and carrying on from year to year.  You can put as little or as much into as you please — from simple planters on an apartment patio, to serious composting and rain harvesting — or you can take the middle ground like we have.  The City of Austin has an excellent water conservation plan (can you say “drought zone”?), and they are offering rainbarrels at a serious discount.  You place them under your gutter downspouts, and use the collected water for your garden and other non-potable uses (and both of ours filled up after one evening of rain).  Simple and easy, it saves a bit on our water bill, and it means I’m not using treated water for my garden.  We also bought a small compost bin that will let us use yard trimmings, fall leaves and certain kitchen waste to fertilize our garden as well, reducing the expense of fancy fertilizes, and saving our water table from the same.  Frankly, I’m two parts stingy to one part environmentally conscious… you find your motivation where you can.

In the past recycling was never anything I was very vigilant about.  If it was convenient, I did it, if it wasn’t… well, I have never argued that I wasn’t lazy.  In NOLA, we did aluminum cans, and that was about it.  I wasn’t sorting my recyclables, and I didn’t much feel like having to determine what could and couldn’t go in the bin from a very selective list.  Austin started out that way, but about three months back they replaced all the tiny curbside bins with gigantic 90 gallon wheeled cans, and they pretty much take anything, and there is no sorting involved.  That caters to even lazy old me… make it easy, and more people will get on board.

The bottom line is this: gardening is frankly a bit of fun, even at this early stage in the game.  It’s fascinating to take the seeds and watch them sprout — it’s like a magic trick.  The work involved leads to a tremendous sense of satisfaction, and you want to shout “Look what I did!  Me!  The guy who killed a Chiapet in elementary school!”  And then at the end of it all, you have tasty things to enjoy.

Now excuse me, I have a shirt to go tie-dye.

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James Joyce, You Filthy Bastard.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment | Thursday 19 March 2009 9:02 am

“If you see Kay
Tell him he may
See you in tea
Tell him from me.”

James Joyce, Prison Gate Girls in Ulysses

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Mardi Gras Revisited.

Posted by DmentD | Friends,Pictures,Rambling,Travel | Tuesday 17 March 2009 6:33 pm

Better late than never, I am here to report that the trip back to the motherland was a whirlwind success.  Five of us (including three Mardi Gras virgins) left Austin on Friday at near midnight is a slightly cramped, but fuel efficient rental car, and landed in NOLA at 8am.  The drive was uneventful, thankfully, and I am always amused and moved by the site of the swampland as the sun rises over the Atchafalaya Basin.

We unloaded the car, and with the exception of Sweets (ever the smart and practical one) we sat around talking for a few hours rather than catching a nap before continuing with the days adventures.  Having literally about 36 hours in town, we were not going to have much time to lounge around and still do what we wanted.

We headed into “god’s country” — St. Bernard Parish — to that ever-present bastion of old world family dining, Rocky & Carlos.  Now, if you’ve never been, Rocky’s is a little dive of a restaurant that has been around since Jesus was still dining from Mary’s tit.  Italian family-style dining (and I mean both “family” and “Family”, knowhatimsayin’?   Fuhgettaboutit.), and before the flood (which was the best cleaning that place ever had), the atmosphere at Rocky’s was so special and unique that you could scrape it off the walls with a cracker.  I miss the old microwave that used to be on top of the broiler… it had a hole melted in the door from the heat, and the staff used to just reach through it, rather than open it.

Afterwards, we joined some folks for the Endymion parade.  We were right at the beginning where the bands, flambeaux and horseback riders were inserted into the parade.  It wasn’t as visceral an experience as being in the crowds downtown, but it was still a good time.  I think I take more joy from the company I’m with at parades, than the actual parades themselves… and to have three newcomers (one of which was my sweetie), and to share their joy at the strangeness of it all was worth every second on the road driving there and back.

After Endymion, we had dinner at Crescent City Brewhouse with the intention of a foray into the French Quarter, just for the sake of the thing.  Once we neared the end of the meal, the travel exhaustion caught up with us, and the adrenaline from the parade wore off, and we decided to head bedward.  Needless to say, we all slept like the dead.

The next morning we woke, nibbled on some breakfast and chatted for a bit, then headed out for some lunch at R&O’s in Bucktown.  After starting life as a pizza joint, they eventually blossomed into a fully fledged Italian restaurant, then expanded into poboys, seafood, and other local staples.  R&O’s is by far my favorite seafood/sammich shop in NOLA, with a consistently yummy seafood gumbo — and true to their eclectic form — dynamite tamales.

After lunch, we did a little shopping for local supplies not easily obtained in Austin: tasso (nobody’s even heard of it here), andouille (a nice hot, but not so hot you can’t taste anything else variety — a concept that seems to escape andouille makers everywhere but in Louisiana), Crystal hot sauce, and honest to goodness King Cakes (12 in all).  After stowing it all back with our gear at the house, we left to attend Bacchus.

Surprisingly, we managed to park about 6 blocks away from Napoleon Ave., and we hoofed it down to meet Lisa, Slinky and relations.  We were met there by Scarlett and Nightshade, and Sancho joined in as well.  A good time was had by all.  Bacchus is still my favorite downtown parade.

We retreated to our car after the parade, and made a beeline for Lola’s in hopes that they were still open for dinner.  Lola’s is a mix of Spanish/Creole cooking, and they have the best paella dishes EVAR!  If you avoid garlic, avoid Lola’s at all costs.  It’s a small place, but the food is always consistently wonderful, and any wait to be seated is well worth it.

After dinner, we gathered up our gear, groceries and selves, and got on the road back to Austin.  Again, we had a mercifully uneventful drive home.  Dropped off the rental car and we all crashed like coma victims in our respective beds.

All in all, it was a good, if short trip, and it scratched the Mardi Gras itch for another year.  Until then, I leave you with this gem.

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We Done Been Moved.

Posted by DmentD | Site,Stress | Friday 13 March 2009 9:49 am

If you’re reading this, then the site move has been completed.

The ever gracious Mensa had previously been hosting this site and CuriousConfections.com (as well as his own) on essentially a rented virtual server, and acting as tech consultant and server admin.  Due to being a busy little fucker, and broke as any smart sonofabitch going for his Grand Poobah Degree (in succession: masters, Ph.D, GrP.D), he has opted to throw me under the train, and kick me to the curb like a rented whoo-ah.

So, I’ve moved to a new host.  A bigger host.  A host that likes a post-coital cuddle before announcing that there is cab fare on the dresser, nowgettheFUCKout!

Ahem.

Just so you know.

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This Guy Just Won The Internet.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Wednesday 11 March 2009 8:57 pm

Courtesy of Joshuah Bearman, by way of BoingBoing, I have just had my mind blown:

“The guy peruses god knows how many clips of songs, historical performances, homemade bedroom noodling, high school band recitals, and low budget YouTube instrumental instructional videos, and combines them to form his own songs. The result is seven diverse — and good! — songs of various genres. That first one arranges some fairly active and original funk out of dozens of different instruments and melodies, including a guy with a mullet playing a theremin.”

Here’s MORE of that guy’s work.

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Carnival Starvation.

Posted by DmentD | Links,Rambling,Reflection | Monday 9 February 2009 9:27 pm

It’s starting.   Can you feel it?

That jittery flutter in my brain has been making my skull itch for about a week now.  It’s carnival season, and I can feel the pull in my very bones.  It’s something I’ve taken for granted my entire life — sometimes loving it for the joy of the sensation of community and being with my friends acting like a fool, sometimes loathing it for its intrusion into my life, sometimes avoiding it like the plague for fear of going homicidal on the the mass idiot crowds — but it has always been there.

I miss it.  And I never realized how much I would until it was no longer a part of the background noise of my life.  I’ve been away from NOLA long enough now for that sensation of something… missing, right around the beginning of the year, to become prominent.  The colors are duller around Austin, the air is missing the tinkle of the familiar old carnival classics — the ones we’ve been playing for well over 40 years now, and nobody ever questions why that tired old music from 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is still the signature music of the season… it just is.  It’s part of the DNA of the city.

Rifling through my music collection, I was heartbroken to find that none of my Mardi Gras music survived the flood, and I had never converted any to digital.  I have been asked no less than four times in the last few weeks if I had any to play… and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t.  I just got the faithful old classic, Mardi Gras In New Orleans, and have been listening to it and smiling so broadly, I swear my grin is going to meet in the back, and pop the top of my head clean off.  I’m putting out a call for anyone with more of the same to help me bulk up my collection, pleaseandthankyou.

The itch is scratched, but it’s not gone.  It’s gonna take being shoulder to shoulder with a rowdy rabble of the unwashed masses, watching the lights, smelling the diesel, screaming my throat raw, and reaching higher to grab the useless — and ultimately worthless except to my starving soul — trinkets that symbolize not just a season, but a part of my life that won’t ever fade.

“Every year, at carnival time, we get a new zoot!
– The Wild Magnolias

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This Kid Is Tripping Balls.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Tuesday 3 February 2009 12:56 pm

Ok, admittedly it’s after a trip to the dentist for oral surgery. But with gems like “Is this real life?”, “Why is this happening to me?”, “Do you have four eyes?” and “Is this going to be forever?”, there are some of you out there saying to yourself  “Dude, puff-puff-pass!

Thank you Boing Boing for the link.

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