Friday, October 31, 2008

Shred, baby, Shred!

Originally uploaded by ibcbulk
I don't have a paper shredder at home, so I keep two separate piles of paper: one for recycling, and one to take to the office to get shredded. I often think, "What's the point?". The chances of anything happening are small and I can deal with it if it does.

On Wednesday I checked my bank account on line to see if there was any money left, and I found three very unexpected charges in the last 3 days. Once per day, someone has been using my card number to pay for a test of English as a foreign language, at $150 each!

This is odd for many reasons. Apparently someone knows enough English to hack into my computer and steal my card number, but not enough to pass a test. And if he failed the test on Monday, and failed it again on Tuesday, why would he think he'd pass it on Wednesday?

The lesson: you can never be paranoid enough!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sale Pending!

Thanks to all the people who sent me advice, by e-mail or here on the blarg, on whether I should buy my condo or not. I got lots and lots of e-mail, and it was really helpful.

It was a tough decision, but I finally decided to procrastinate until someone else would buy it. And someone finally did!

I was riding by on my bike last Thursday, and it had a sale pending sign up.

Seriously, I just decided that I don't feel comfortable right now getting that deep into debt. Psychologically, I don't handle debt well, and the recent market turmoil also gave me pause.

I do not mind renting indefinitely. And it might even make sense financially.

Maybe I'll look for a nicer apartment someday, but this one is really fine for me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On the road again

No green dots here.
Stare at cross

My good friend Li-7 is about to be going on a big adventure. She will be going out on tour as a roadie and merchandise-bunny for one of our favorite bands, the Legendary Pink Dots. I don't exactly envy her for traveling all over the country with a bunch of vegetarian men with questionable hygiene who keep odd hours. But she can better tolerate the uncertainties and vicissitudes of such travel than I. I'm sure it will be tons of fun for her, and I am a little jealous.

Since I need a vacation, love exploring new cities, and love this band, I decided to meet her at at least one stop on the tour. But which one? For that I have to back up to how we met.

I had just moved to SF. The day I arrived, my complete CD collection was stolen out of my car. (Yes, I was an eedjet to leave it there in the first place.) I was making little money at the time and SF was (is) expensive, so for a while I was reluctant to buy any new CDs. When I finally did, the first one I re-acquired was Malachai, Shadow Weaver Part 2. I couldn't live without it. (For the record, the second CD was Too Dark Park.)

Through the cloud-zero mailing list, I met Johnny Seitan (not his real name), and he let me make casette copies of the discs that had been stolen from me, and we traded other musical reccomendations. Hard to believe, but MP3's didn't exist yet!

When the dots fall tour came around, Johnny and I talked about going to several shows along the west coast. I then posted a note to cloud-zero asking if anyone else wanted to join us and share expenses for the shows in Seattle and Vancouver. As it turned out, Li-7 and Blondie, who had never met, decided to drive all the way from the other side of the Rockies, in winter, to join us. Johnny couldn't make it for the Seattle show, but was to join us for the Vancouver one.

Now, the Prozac must have been the un-cut real stuff at that time, because this is the sort of thing I just don't do!

Anyway, I reserved us a place at the Hippy Hole in Seattle. They have since moved to better digs, but at the time it was in a crumbling old house.

I was to meet them at the show. When I arrived and found them, I found out that at the Portland show the day before they had met the band and Niels had apparently developed a crush on Li-7. Moments later, there he is sitting with us. This is like freaking me out, but in a good way. I'd been listening to this guy's music almost every day for several years.

They did a great show in Seattle. The next day, we go pick up Johnny at the airport and drive to Vancouver for the show. At some point we realize that there might be some items in the car that shouldn't cross the border, so we find a spot and bury them. Our plan was to go to the show and then drive back to Seattle to sleep. But Johnny just can't restrain himself from going backstage after the show, so we all do. I totally felt like they didn't want me there, though Niels wanted to keep talking to Li-7. So I was uncomfortable, but I did get to talk to cEvin key, and share his rather large cigarette. Since he had been involved in several bands that I loved, like Skinny Puppy and Cyberaktiv, that was also fun.

Anyway, we finally leave and drive back to Seattle, picking up our lost cargo along the way. When we get back in our room, we find that there are like four more people sleeping on our floor! Even though I'd paid extra for a private room! Never trust hippies!

Anyway, it was ok. The next day was Thanksgiving day, and we got to share a big, free hippy turkey dinner that we hadn't been expecting.

Now I was completely oblivious to this -- probably because I was always looking at cute, straight Blondie -- but it turns out that Li-7 was love-struck by Johhny at first sight. So it was a complete surprise to me when she later moved to SF to be with him. But that was great because we gradually became good friends.

So now that Li-7 is on tour with the band on this tour, I had to pick a spot to meet her. I thought about going back to where it all began in Seattle or Vancouver, but I've been to those places several times already. So I decided on the one spot I skipped that time, Portland.

Of course, they are also playing November 14 and 15 at the Café du Nord, and I wouldn't dream of missing either show, and neither should you! They changed my life. Might they change yours?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Je suis un geek!

It's official. I am now a geek!

While you may have suspected this already, I've passed my final initiation. I've now played Dungeons and Dragons!

Ok, not technically D&D, but the French version, jeu de rôle.

I signed-up for this class at the Alliance Française de Berkeley thinking we would be doing role-playing using extracts from theater pieces. But this is fun in its own way.

Unlike D&D, the French version does not usually take place in a dungeon and there aren't any dragons. Our game takes place in Paris in April, 1900, at the time of the Exposition Universelle.

I am Paul de Mori-Sophrat, a 19-year old student of Egyptology at the Sorbonne. (The prof even drew me a picture.)

The game leader provided a little back-story that I am a the teachers pet of my Prof. The dice provided my relative abilities. I get to fill-in the rest.

So far I have decided to play him as an arrogant suck-up with no real talent other than sweet-talking the professor. I haven't quite decided whether I'm supplying him with opium or the other way around. I'm probably blackmailing him so his wife won't know what really goes on between us.

Anyway, Paris in 1900 was an exciting time. They finally had a semi-functional government, money was starting to flow again, there were exciting new inventions (like moving sidewalks!), and construction was going on all over the city. The city was also host to the 2nd Olympic Games at the same time as the expo.

The story so far: the professor left me a note with a librarian telling me that his life was in danger and I should go to his office and burn all his papers. I went there and found that someone had already ransacked the place. I decided not to destroy the papers. Then I took my bike over to the professor's house. There, I found the concièrge dead in her apt., and someone chased me with a gun. I reported all this to the police and they locked me up! The nerve! And with a boozing bum to boot.

My character doesn't know it yet, but the professer is hiding-out in a hotel, where there are also two experienced adventuresses who have come to Paris for some mysterious purpose, along with their majordom. An apparently insignificant painting was stolen from the Egyptian pavillion. The only clue is a mysterious insignia on what remains of the frame.

I fear that I may get stuck in that jail cell for the rest of the game if I don't stage a break-out. Good thing I've got some congac to bribe the bum to help me. (Lesson: never go anywhere without booze.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Table for One

Ever since I wrote my bit on my other piece of art, I've been meaning to write about this one. And I guess I'm now finally getting around to it.

Voilà! "Table for One" by David Fink.

I met David soon after I first moved to San Francisco, which seems like thousands of years ago, and also like yesterday.

I loved his art right away. And when he had a show, I fell in love with this one when I first saw it. JP was with me and she loved it too and helped me decide to buy it. My first art!

A lot has to do with the colors. I'm a big fan of warm browns and oranges and southwestern desert colors.
Cooper's Rothko
Untitled (Green, Brown, Orange)
By Dyna Mo
Also when I saw it, I immediately thought of a Rothko painting.

No not the one Mr Cooper had in his office on Mad Men (fabulous show), but another one. Same style, but different colors. Similar to the way David's painting has three big blocks of color.

It wasn't until several years later that I learned there was a companion piece. David and I had gone sky diving with two other guys -- no, I'm not lying -- and afterwards we went by one of their houses. There on the wall was "Table for Two".

Some would say that the table for one is depressing and the table for two is happier. (It is brighter blue in real life, if I remember right.) But I've never found mine depressing. I see it mostly as some blocks of nice colors. Besides, I remember that table. And at the time, David was making some really depressing paintings of scary angels.

Be sure to check out David's paintings of hydrants. Maybe an odd subject, but they are great!