January 30, 2005
I bought some new pens two days ago: some Uni-ball Vision pens. I've been using Pilot G2s for a long long time, but I've gotten more and more annoyed that they smear and take so long to dry with using my new Moleskine daily diary. I was taking notes at a lecture last week, and I even had to blot the pages. I might be willing to do that with my glass pens or with a fountain pen, but not with something I bought in a pack of four at Staples. I can dig the whole "archival safe" thing, but I wish that G2s were waterproof. Besides, being archival safe and acid-free sounds nice and all that, but I'm not exactly going to live long enough to experience the greatness of archival safe inks, let alone to see if Pilot's gel ink really does last for hundreds of years. Further, who in the world will want to read something I have written long after I am dead and gone? Rather than having archival safe ink (if I'm not going to just use a simple ballpoint pen or pencil, that is), I would rather have waterproof ink. I have spilled coffee on a Moleskine full of G2 ink before, and the results were not pretty. If that ink lasts forever, it will only do so if a book can forever escape getting a cafe' au lait spilled on it by a clumsy graduate student or getting stuck in the rain. I would rather have an ink that will always last when I'm still around to read my own writing. And I don't want to have to use acrylic inks with a dip pen or waterproof ink in my fountain pen. I want something I can lose or chew on or give away while being able to drop by the office supply store to get some more for a few bucks. A simple roller-ball pen with fadeproof, waterproof ink does the trick. The Uni-ball Vision (Micro) ink does not seem to bleed through the pages as much as G2 ink, either. It also dries much faster. And Sanford does not make matching pencils (like Pilot does for the G2), so I do not feel pressured into using some particular kind of pencil, just for the sake of matching my pens. In fact, Sanford makes all of their pencils under the PaperMate brand now (which they own), even the famed Mirado (Black Warrior, Classic and Woodtone) pencils which were formerly sold under the old Eberhard Faber brand.* I am quite happy with my Visions so far, though I wish that Sanford would advertise their waterproof ink better. The standard Vision pens are not listed as such on the website, while others are. And they never mention that their gel ink is actually acid-free like G2 ink is (but it dries faster and bleeds less). I would not be shocked to learn that the Vision's ink is acid-free, though I really don't care that much. What matters to me is that I can spill coffee on my Moleskines now. I can still carry them in my pocket on a rainy day. And I can sweat on a page, all with no ill effects in the legibility of the ink. Apologies for the pen post. I try to keep some of my obscene obsessions to myself, but they leak out now and again. *[If you want to try some wonderful wooden pencils, try some Mirado pencils. They can be found at any office supply store, Wal-Mart, the grocery store -- virtually anywhere that sells pencils -- now that they are sold under the PaperMate brand.]
January 28, 2005
I know I'm not exactly the type of person who reports on, or even follows, business news. Truth is, I could usually care less. I have close to $100,000 in student loan debt (not including my wife's debt); I don't own any stock; money is something I don't like to think about much. But Procter and Gamble is purchasing Gillette, and that's bad news. See, I am one of those bunny-hugging vegetarians who won't buy products which are tested on animals or made by companies who test on animals* (this approach is actually not that difficult, once you do some research). For razors, I used products made by The American Safety Razor Company, gear that is hard to find and which is not exactly up to the standards of Gillette of Schick in terms of comfort. Low and behold, Gillette puts a moratorium on its animal testing, and my friend is right: we should support them so that they make the ban permanent. So I switched to Gillette razors, to the joy of my face and neck. Procter and Gamble is one of the few companies left that actually still engages in animal testing. Check the big lists; the "Do No Test" list is multiple times larger than the "Do Test" list. But put aside whether animal testing is ethical, whether it's cost-effective, whether it makes more sense to use high-tech replicated human tissue like some companies use at times (because animal testing is not entirely reliable). The bottom line is that, if you think about animal testing and feel very strongly about it, it's back to less comfortable shaving (or a less comfortable conscience) for now. The good news is that Bic has a moratorium now, and I suspect their gear might be superior to the ASRCo, not to mention much easier to find. I attended a very good lecture yesterday where I saw a professor in the department whom I admire. He has grown one hell of a thick and hearty winter beard, and I was thinking of growing my customary "winter beard" around now, given that I haven't cut those whiskers in days. I suppose that the business world has helped me to decide to sport my red beard for a few weeks or months now. *[This is not a "principle" that I necessarily want to see universalized per se. I think I do a decent job of not judging people for which companies they buy from. I just got back from Wal-Mart myself.]
January 26, 2005
If you are a fellow Moleskine aficionado and are a loyal reader of Moleskinerie [and if not, shame on you:)], be sure to check out Journalisimo, the blog dedicated to the preservation of analog culture. It's put together by Armand Frasco and Mike Rhode, creator of Moleskinerie and talented graphic designer, respectively. Also be sure to check out their other blogs, on the sidebar over yonder. I've read both for some time and always find something rich and enjoyable to read and admire.
In case some folks read their blogs from under some rocks somewhere, I thought I'd pass along some reviews/news regarding Microsoft's new blogging software, MSN Spaces. Everyone seems like they started talking about it and then forgot. Such is techno-culture, I suppose. Washington Post Guardian Unlimited MSNBC Of course, I have registered for the PRAGMATIK space already, just in case the real version is a thousand times better than the beta is. I have screwed up though, and I registered under my main email account (i.e., the one that is firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm not wild about that, in case I have some crazed Conservative or philosophy hater come after me. But whatever. It's not like it's that hard to find out who I really am anyway. It's not like it's a secret or like I'm a spy. Aside from the radically limiting nature of the MSN software, however, I may have found a reason not to make the switch anytime soon: "content moderation" -- the best way to say "censorship" I have heard in my life. But, then again, for all I know, Blogger might have the same thing in their terms of service, but I was too lazy to actually read them. But, then again (again), I can't really see the creators of the "Google Image Search" (more porn, faster) censoring the folks who use their blogging software, namely, Blogger. I don't actually exercise my particular brand of dirty language on my blog (and I sometimes make up for that behind the wheel), but it would be nice to know that I could if I wanted to. Geez. How much porn does Microsoft enable people to bring into their homes each day, via their PC revolutions? So long as it's not on the msn.com domain -- right.
January 25, 2005
As I was saying yesterday, ADD (ADHD, really) means you keep doing something for hours, once your brain gets hooked. I spent forever on that damned banner/header, because I was too distracted to look up how to do it and coded it by trial and error. Never code that way. Ever. We received a new gnome for Christmas from one of my parents' friends, which is a real treat, given how hard they are to find in the winter (unless you look on the internet -- which is no way to find a gnome). We already have one called "The Professor" so this little chap with the book is called "The Dean." Here he is deep in thought.
January 24, 2005
Apologies for the lack of posts. Stressful week and registration period and all that. Wah wah wah. I could have a 9-5 job, I know. Two new toys came today: new speakers and an optical mouse -- after we already bought the multi-media keyboard I wanted two months ago. Delicious. I love Dell, although those toys are on sale now that I have already gotten them. Figures. Oh, well. Other things are good and nice, now that my registration is taken care off. I'm doing lots of independent studies this semester: working on my ancient philosophy and some un-read recent Continental thinkers (ones I have not, but should have, read). I do work better on my own, really. With ADD, I suppose you have to work when you can and not during some arbitraty hours. Although I always attempt a routine, it seldom works very well or for very long. My brain seems wired to work when it wants to. On the bright side, I always say that I can get a day's work finished in a long morning or a short afternoon, since I usually only attempt to work when my brain is ready for it. When that there brain wants to work, it seldom really wants to stop, which is usually fine with me. Geez, I sound lazy. It's not that I don't like to work. I don't like to work and still get nothing done, so long as one agrees with me about there being a difference between working and getting things done. I have to prepare for my preliminary doctoral examinations or whatever there'll called. (The grad students and faculty in the department simply refer to them as the prelims.) I tell myself that I'm going to study and read and take notes in the office at the university each weekday. Or I'll tell myself that I'll get up and get right to work at home. Whatever. The truth is that I can't get anything done at all on some days. On others, I'll wake up and get work done all day and well into the night. Sometimes, I'll be productive solidly through business hours. But, maybe it's not my ADD. Maybe it's how everyone works best. Who knows? Enough belly-aching.
January 22, 2005
I woke up (very late) today to some unexpected snow in Southern Illinois. In my short time in this area, I've found that winter weather seems to miss us here -- of course, with the exception of that big snow-storm that gave Carbondale a white Christmas while I was in Baltimore. I grabbed a photo or two quickly. The balcony was covered a little, but most of it has blown away. Of course, I hope I'm wrong about my winter-weather-predictions and that it snows a hell of a lot this winter. I miss Boston and Baltimore, the latter of which is being blanketed today and tomorrow in fluffy white flakes.
January 21, 2005
January 19, 2005
January 17, 2005
Back in Illinois, now. Very very very cold, which is actually just as good news to me as a nice spring day now, considering how damned warm winter has been so far. The car barely started this morning at all. Poor thing. No matter how much you don't want to leave your family and friends at home, it's always good to get back to where you actually live, your own little space. My apartment is now sporting some nice new tables from IKEA and assorted other improvements, several of which are still in the works. It's cozy, and it smells good. And, after loading the entire car at the market, there are plenty of tasty things to eat around here. Great news for my diet, right? The exercise equipment is not set up yet, anyway. I can have some damned cookies with my coffee tonight. Yes, I can. Oh, that's my brother's ducky and his glasses, in Baltimore. Felt like it.
January 14, 2005
How many philosophers does it take to change a tire? Two. Exactly two. Two nights ago, the damned tire blew on the Mazda in the fog, right across the street from our usual service station when we're in Baltimore, as luck would have it, and mere yards from a nice cafe'. It could have been worse. This is my college roommate and very good friend Brian and myself (that's me in the hat)* standing near the Mazda sporting the tiny spare tire. The only other time I ever blew a tire, I was alone in a spot on the MD/PA state line were my mobile phone didn't work and where there was no light of any kind. It was 1998. I was only 18 and on the side of the highway. My 1982 Ford Fairmont had one weird jack. I had to get into the trunk to avoid getting hit by a truck in the dark. I'd only changed a tire in theory and never for real. Oh, and the tire decided to blow when I was driving at about 70 mph, which is a unique driving experience I would never wish on anyone, being the front tire. I managed to pull it off and was proud of myself during my one hour drive home that night in the summer of 1998. This time, the car was going less than 10 mph when the tire died. There was light. There was help. And there was coffee to be enjoyed while we waited for my fearless two brothers to come and pick the four of us up in their respective cars. It happened across the street from the Mazda service station and very close to the tire dealer we took it to yesterday. Mazda put needlessly expensive Goodyear Eagle RSA tires on what they consider a "compact car." They last maybe 20-25 thousand miles and cost over $200 each ($228 in our case). That's a stupid move. We're going to wear out a set of tires about every year that we have that car. And now the poor thing is actually parked next to god knows who, hopefully not getting dings on the sides, for which I will hunt a person down. We're poor grad students and probably are over-protective of our car -- as a result of the big monthly payments and because of what happened to the poor Focus. Anyway and luckily, my parents live in the newly-hip Hampden, as I've said before. And the four of us were able to make it to Cafe' Hon before closing, after which we retired to the Hon Bar adjacent to the restaurant. There were some fine local musicians playing very mellow Irish tunes, and there was plenty of Guinness and plenty of local Baltimore brews to be enjoyed. And your favorite philosopher found himself pretty drunk for the first time in quite some time. I was drunk enough to be tempted to run to the house to get my mandolin to join the band, but also drunk enough to forget any complicated chords and probably to even hold the instrument. Staying put was definitely a good decision. What could have been a horrible night turned out to be a nice evening with some very nice people, very good food, and very cold beers. Here is a photo of Brian and Carrie, a couple who is a veritable emanating plenitude of affection, warmth and love.
*[Sorry the photo of Brian and I is dark; my photo-editing software is on my computer in Illinois, not that I ever use it, really. And I didnt' shoot that photo, anyway:)]
January 12, 2005
That's my friend Zack and I, in a photo taken by myself about a month ago. You know, I'm the one in the tan jacket and darker beard and junk. That was post-finals and post-fourteen g-d hours in the car. Forgive the tired and puffy look on my part. Very tired now, too. Wah wah wah. Mini-insomnia this week. Diet next week. Sad good-byes. Even more sad sorry-we-didn't-get-togethers. Going home to Illinois in a few days. So many photos to post, once I get to my own computer at home. Etc. Mad IKEA goodies. Mad. Going out for food, though, soon. Good food. Good company. Etc. Stay tuned and all that.
January 09, 2005
I finally saw the new Wes Anderson film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. If you liked The Royal Tenenbaums, definitely go see it. If not, but if you like good films, go see it. If neither, save your $8. After all, the annoying teenager out with his girly-girl (I assume his mom drove them) sitting behind me complained, "This movie's so gay. It's so gay. I don't like this shit. It's so gay." Let's put aside the stupidity involved in calling something you don't like "gay" for now. Three-fourths of the way through the movie, the film caught fire. Yup, boil and bubble. I was worried that we would be issued free passes but would have to catch the rest of the movie at a later date. Luckily, the perplexed teeny-boy left -- despite his girlfriend's pleas that the movie was in fact not "gay" and that she really was enjoying it -- and took his annoying chatter with him. Even more luckily, not ten minutes went by before the flick resumed and finished without further melted film or that gross gurgling sound it makes. I suppose you could call the film a character study, much in the same way that The Royal Tenenbaums is a character study of Royal Tenenbaum and his family. But I suppose that could also be truly said about the rest of Anderson's movies. The music is great, comprised largely of David Bowie songs arranged for acoustic guitar and translated into Portuguese. The colors are...quirky. Despite its other-worldly setting, the film is very very Wes Anderson. And I mean that in a good way. I have somewhere to go, so I can't ramble about this film anymore. Go see it. And, as a reminder, don't waste money or time on that trite wannaba thriller The Village, which is about to come out on DVD. Instead, check out the trailer of Steve Zissou's adventure.
January 06, 2005
I signed up months ago with Amazon.com to be notified if and when the second season of "La Femme Nikita" would be released on DVD. Apparently, it was released a while back and then recalled because some of the discs didn't work or something like that. Anyway, I woke up sick this morning, but with very good news in my inbox: on March 15th, it's out. And you can pre-order on Amazon.com. As a bonus, it's way way way less expensive than the first season was, too. Delicious.
January 05, 2005
I paid a visit to New York City a few weeks ago, and I didn't really write about it yet. So much so say that I never really get around to saying it. And the holidays. Etc. One comment initially: New Yorkers are not as rude as people say they are, according to my limited experience. In fact, I would say that all of the New Yorkers I met were much nicer and warmer than the folks I encountered during my two-year tryst in Boston. I met up with one of my brothers, his lady, and my two cousins and their strapping men; we were looking for a particular restaurant. We asked a man on the street which way we should go. Most of the way up the block in the direction the man pointed us, Kevin and I figured out that we were going the wrong way and turned around. We were then face to face with the man who gave us the directions. See, he had realized that he sent us the wrong way and had chased us down to tell us the right way to go. I had some nice chats on the trains in Boston about philosophy and literature and films and all of that junk, but this man's efforts were certainly unexpected, especially considering the popular wisdom that New Yorkers would rather run you over with their cab than share the time of day with you. This was, to be sure, not an isolated experience, but it was, rather, consistent with the rest of my encounters with the residents of New York City. This could be because the population of New York is, like Boston, made up of tons and tons of people from others parts of this country and other countries altogether. It has been suggested to me that this could account for my unexpected experiences. But for that to be true, I would have had to run into no native New Yorkers all day, and I find that highly unlikely. I have a lot of other things to write about my trip to the Big Apple and some trips around Baltimore as well. But I have a tickle in my throat, so I'm going to drink some tea and listen to some old Paul Simon and 80s tunes. Stay tuned.
January 02, 2005
Someone asked at dinner on New Year's Eve what the most important thing to happen to everyone at the table -- personally -- in 2004 was. I can't decide on one event, which is completely like me. But I can pick two. The most obvious is the wrecking of the Focus in May(1&2). Because of the vacation ruining; the whole almost-getting-seriously-hurt thing; the insurance nightmare; the perils of car-shopping for the second time in less than a year; the excessively paranoid worrying that comes along with owning a new car that you can barely afford, after the last one you could barely afford was smashed by a huge SUV with me in it; dropping two grand as a down-payment; the anger when the police-officer changed her story and suddenly "saw everything" and blamed the whole accident on me, the one who was not even moving; etc., MFin' etc. On the bright side, we bought a faster car, with more room in the back hatch, with the moonroof I always wanted. And Geico considers me a "preferred customer" (don't know why; I'm only 25) and only raised my insurance rates by $10 a month, even though the accident cost them about $15,000-$16,000. And, of course, the obvious bright side: no one was hurt, not even the asshole who caused the whole thing. The other tremendous thing for me about 2004 was the beginning of the this blog, in its initial form on Blogger, on TypePad and then on its return to Blogger over the summer. I won't gush about how blogging has "changed my life" or anything like that. But I've e-met some great folks; learned a lot about some interesting people; obtained inside info on music, movies, books and the advent of DSL in Carbondale; been able to get over some irrational phobias a little bit via confessing them to people I've never met over the internet; and other things I could think of if I had been awake from more than an hour. There are, of course, times when I don't feel like blogging and times when I'm afraid it will get in the way of "real life." But these are, for now, out-weighed by the benefits of blogging. So much for 2004. Resolutions for 2005? Well, like most fat-assed Americans, I am committed to losing some weight and getting into better shape. I will work to curb some of my too-much-for-a-25-year-old worrying: about scratches in the car that can only be avoided by never driving, about getting testicular cancer just because my friend did, and about a hundred other stupid things. Worrying about getting work done and finishing my doctoral program and getting a job are things far more worth worrying about, on a practical level, anyway. I need to continue to read more and watch more movies and to watch less television (except "The Simpsons") and play a little less "Call of Duty" online. I've been bad at keeping in touch with people lately, too. That needs to change. I should write more, get back into painting and should play my bass and mandolin more, too. Those are always good things for me; they keep me sane and un-boring. I wouldn't say that 2004 was a bad year. Just boring, save for a few things. I hope this leveling is not something that heralds getting older or more "mature" or anything like that. I'll have to go nomadic or something to keep myself amused, if that is the case. Making 2005 less boring will take a lot of work on my part, now, too. I know.