Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I'm Not A Smart Man...

I really didn't do any research when I requested an iPod for my Christmas present from my folks. I just knew that I had been downloading songs from any and all sources for years, and I wanted a place to put these songs besides my hard drive. Now, I once had about 200 songs on my hard drive thanks to Napster and Kazaa and a few other file-swapping sites, but my computer completely crashed a couple of summers ago and I had to get rid of all that. At the moment I only have eight songs in my collection from Limewire, but I thought once I plugged my iPod into my computer that I could place those songs right in there. Then, in the future, I could download a song, put it in my iPod, and delete the song so as not to wear out my computer again. iPod had a different idea. On my computer screen, the iPod front page separates my Limewire files, allows me to play them on my computer like before, but refuses to send them to my iPod because they "cannot swap unregistered files," or something like that. I assumed that the Limewire files are on my hard drive, therefore they should swap over no problem. I assumed wrong. So the only things that transferred to my iPod are a file someone sent me seven years ago that has some white guy doing an Ebonics-style commercial for Delta ("We loves us some flyin'...and it be showin' like a motherfucker!") and all of my dirty pics, which I probably will delete because I have no reason to take those out in public unless I'm looking to get arrested. Unless someone with some computer savvy informs me of another way, I may have to succumb to the iTunes store and pay 99 cents per download for my songs, whether those songs are the versions I'm looking for or not. Otherwise, my Christmas present would be expensive and totally useless, and that reminds me too much of my ex-girlfriends.

(Update at 1:24P--Eureka! I seemed to have burned all of my songs from Limewire to my iPod. Everyone at once: Awwwww, shit!!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Finished My Christmas Shopping

And with a whole day to spare! God, I'm such a man...

Friday, December 22, 2006

31 Years Of Learning

"I can't imagine not wanting some recognition on your birthday," said my girlfriend when I told her that no one at work knew today was my birthday and I planned to keep it that way. Yet when I attended a meeting in which a proposal to announce recent birthdays was shot down because no one knew a way to legally find out whose birthday has recently occurred, I chimed in, "Well, today's my birthday, so I guess you can start with me." Later, I told my module's team lead as well. Thus, a perfect ending to a year in which I learned that I will never stop learning, whether I'm attending school or not. Today I learned to never assume that I can reject a chance at grabbing some recognition. I believe that I tried to downplay my birthday every other year as well, and wound up telling everyone so that they would wish me well. This year I learned so much about myself, from January, finally pulling off a one-night stand without falling hopelessly in love, to February, dealing with losing my apartment and living in a basement while piecing together a good enough interview to land my current job, to delicately putting together a long-distance relationship built on common ground and respect and not lust, to patiently building a new life with a new outlook and a new apartment. And the learning can only stop if I want to close my mind and stop it, and that's not something I'm interested in. I want to take every lesson that's coming to me, whether it's painful, enlightening, or whatever.

My most recent lesson before today was very painful--don't hold on to plastic bags too long. I was caught in a long line Wednesday at Walgreens behind those proverbial little old ladies from Pasadena, and I had four plastic bags of Christmas presents in my left hand. I absentmindedly let all of those bags dangle from my left ring finger, thinking that I'm going to put everything down on the counter once I got there. But getting to the counter took forever, because the ladies took forever. I felt the blood get cut off on my finger, but I didn't put the bags down because I would have had to pick everything up off the floor once it was my turn in line, and I was anticipating my turn coming any second now. My finger went numb. I didn't really think anything of it, because I've been caught in line before with bags that cut off the circulation in my hand, and it came back once I was able to get my bags together and arrange them in a way that wouldn't hurt nearly as much. Well, it's Friday, and my finger is still numb. It's just the tip, but it's still scary. At least the nurse at my job didn't think it was a very big deal. She says that it seems to be a very bad bruise and that if the feeling isn't back by Monday, then I should find a doctor. The side of my finger underneath got the feeling back this morning, but the rest of it is still dead. So the lesson: Don't ignore a limb going numb, dumbfuck, drop the bags already!

I have gifts for my girlfriend in Memphis, but instead of paying for postage and sending them down there, I figure I might as well accompany them. So next Sunday night after work I will fly down south for not my wildest New Year's ever, but my most meaningful. I had a feeling that next year would be a big year for me even before I met my girlfriend, and I can't think of a better way to start that year than with her. She has supported me fully ever since we got together, and sometimes I still can't believe I'm with her. I can't wait.

Happy holidays to all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wasted Potential

I just watched Michael Vick during the Falcons-Cowboys game roll one way and try to force a bad pass to a receiver unsuccessfully, while completely missing a receiver on the other side of the field who had absolutely nobody covering him. After about six years of waiting for Vick to mature, read the field, make good decisions, and become an all-around quarterback and not just a fast runner with a strong arm, I realized tonight that this will never happen. Vick has gone through several coaching changes in all his years in Atlanta, and several philosophies as well. But truly, if he was open to learning and able to adjust, he would be decent by now at being an NFL quarterback. But he's not. What he is is one of the most talented athletes in the history of the league, by yardage the best single-season rushing QB ever, but still not a good decision-maker or accurate passer. He completed one of his passes tonight by simply launching the football in the air as far as he could and hoping that a receiver would run underneath the ball and catch it. He did that again later, and his receiver was interfered with by the defender, so they got the ball at the spot of the foul. It doesn't take a great or even good quarterback to launch the ball far and hope you get a catch or pass interference (see Rex Grossman, Bears). And that's all Vick seems capable of doing, even after all these years. Vick will never be a good NFL quarterback. I don't know what he will be doing in a few years, but it's clear that the Falcons won't be using him at QB. He may be a running back or even a wide receiver, although I don't know how good he can catch the ball, or he may be given the quarterback position by a different franchise. But his time in Atlanta behind center has had its chance, and it has failed. There is no future there. I'm very afraid at this point that Vick's full athletic potential will never be fulfilled, and that saddens me because the man is pure electric in the open field. But when any team with a decent pass rush can disrupt your passing game so consistently, it's time to look at the offense and/or the personnel running the offense, and since they've used just about every offense known to man during Vick's tenure, I believe it lies on the personnel, meaning Vick and his core of receivers. But when your quarterback can't put any touch on his throws, it doesn't matter who his receivers are. They're never going to see the ball anyway.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Family Fun For Everyone (Unless He Wears Those Assless Pants)

I'm not making this up: Someone with the National Football League saw it proper to have Prince as the halftime act at the Super Bowl in February. Here's my short list of songs I'd love to see Prince perform just to stick it to the censors who thought Janet Jackson's boob was evil and dangerous:

"Do Me Baby"
"Jack U Off"
"D.M.S.R. (Dance Music Sex Romance)"
"Let's Pretend We're Married"
"Darling Nikki"
"Private Joy"
And, because it's the Super Bowl and you have to end on an upbeat, unite-the-world note, "God"

The man's career is more than 20 albums long, so if I missed your favorite, feel free to add to the list.

Workplace Terror, A Little Too Close To Home

A ho-hum typical workday Friday was interrupted with news of a shooting one block from my job. I was seated away from the 7th-floor window instead of near the window, which is where I usually sit. So when I asked a colleague about all the buzz going around the floor about something happening in the area, she simply pointed out the window at the phalanx of cops and blue lights down the street. The building has a food court on the ground floor that I visited for lunch nearly every day when I first started working with Chase until I discovered some Italian restaurants nearby. And I don't take lunch until late in the day, usually past 1P, because most of our work comes in the morning thanks to FedEx and DHL. So many co-workers and I weren't very far from being caught up in this drama, since the gunman decided to strike around 2:30P or so. On top of that, I cut through that building to get to one of the trains I have the choice of taking home when I leave at 4:30P. In fact, I took that train home Friday, gingerly stepping around police barricades and TV cameras and groups of onlookers, some of whom may have been in the building and may have witnessed the beginnings of this nightmare. The buzz in my workplace when it was time for me to leave was that "They got him," meaning that those afraid to go home thinking there might be a nut on the loose right outside our doors could breathe easier. I was wearing my headphones while I worked, so I didn't know what the hell "They got him" meant; like I said, the first I heard about the shooting was when I looked outside right before I left. I cut through the building on the way to work Saturday moring and this morning, and the usually jovial and busy food court doesn't look as inviting when it's flanked by security. It's just another sad reminder of the world we live in.

Oh, one more thing: I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks this way, but I didn't know what race the shooter or the victims were when I heard a co-worker speaking of the shooter in a sympathetic manner. The co-worker is black. She talked about how the gunman was upset about his invention being stolen by the inhabitants of the attorneys' office on the 38th floor, and that's why he busted in there with guns blazing. I was throwing out some general "Oh, he was nuts before this invention business came about" lines, but she was persistent that she felt bad for the guy because he felt he was wronged and that made him snap. Am I the only person who immediately saw a black woman feeling sorry for a guy who shot three unarmed people and thought, "Oh, the guy must have been black?" And sure enough, she eventually said that she saw his pastor on the news last night telling his story, leading me to look inside today's paper and find the shooter's picture. Am I wrong here? How could anyone show sympathy for this guy? I don't care how he felt, he walked into an office full of people who never had anything to do with his situation and opened fire. Sure, he got his target first, but he wasn't being choosy by the time he got to his third and potentially fourth victim. At that point he was just ending lives for sport. I didn't tell the co-worker this, but I don't see how the hell she could possibly have felt sorry for this guy unless she had seen him and his black pastor on TV. Whatever his plight was, whether he really was ripped off or not, the man was insane. He had a lifetime of hurt built up before he decided to go on this rampage. Trust me, I know of what I speak. I don't know his story at all, but black or white, I guarantee this shit about his invention being stolen was only his tipping point, not his sole source of rage.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hell, We've Tried Everything Else

Just When You Think It Couldn't Get Worse...

My hot water wasn't very hot once the heating crew turned it back on last night, but it was warm enough for me to hop in the shower this morning...until they cut it off mid-lather. Turns out that they were only cutting the hot water today. Once I turned my shower dial to cold, here came the water again. So for the first time since they cut my hot water in my second apartment building in an attempt to force me to move, I took an ice shower. Woke me up, I'll say that. But my genitals are still frozen. One of the guys swore to me that everything would be fixed today, right before they started ripping down one of my walls. I'm getting out of here for the rest of the day before I hurt someone.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

House Of Horrors

A couple of issues that don't seem to be big but could turn big are preventing me from fully enjoying my house. (That's not counting the issue of my girlfriend not being in the house with me. Long-distance relationships can suck sometimes.) First, a new heating system is being installed, allowing each individual apartment to have control over its own heat without affecting the rest of the house. Let's just say that the men putting this system in don't appear to be college-educated. It took five of them to bring a heavy but small green furnace shaped like a safe to the back door before they managed to completely smash the door's glass. These guys have the key to my apartment so that they can do their thing while I work. But one day last week my play aunt who lives in the building informed me that she had to pull my door closed because the men had left for the day and my back door was wide open. There's four huge holes in my newly painted walls, and it would be nice if they could plaster those over sometime soon. One of my radiators is leaking something all over my hardwood floor. I hope it's just water; there's been a noticeable gas smell ever since they fired up the heat the day before Thanksgiving, although they warned us that the odor would occur and would go away "soon." Why they're still working on shit and pounding pipes at 9 in the morning (something I wouldn't notice if I didn't have days off in the middle of the week when they work) is beyond me. If the heat's on, shouldn't their jobs be done? And the heat wasn't on when the first cold spell hit about a month ago, so not only should they be done, but they should have been done a while back. They don't put the things they move back in place in my apartment when they leave, there's still a pair of gloves in my living room that don't belong to me, and I could only laugh when I came home one day to find the overhead cord to my kitchen lights turned off but the ceiling fan cord turned on. It was 40 degrees. Today is a new kind of hell--they've had to turn the water off to the whole house while they work, and the heat is off as well, and today's high is a toasty 31. Makes me wanna rent a hotel room somewhere until this shit is over.

The second issue may turn out to be even worse. My upstairs neighbors are total strangers to me, and that's not unusual at all because I've been in the habit my whole life of coming home from school or work, locking the door, and not acknowledging the outside world until the next morning. But I don't want to know these neighbors based on what I hear from them through the walls. There's a lot of talk about kicking someone's ass or fucking someone up, and that's not just something I hear once or twice. That's a popular conversation in that household. And that's during daytime hours. What I hear at night is loud music and lots of sex, especially in the bedroom right above mine. Someone in that room loves wearing high heels, and combined with our hardwood floors, that creates a difficult sleeping situation for me. And the sex doesn't help because I don't need to be reminded that I haven't gotten any in almost a year. According to my aunt, who owns the building, the tenant is supposed to be an older woman all by herself, but she does have adult children who may or may not be employed, and that's who she thinks is also dwelling there. I don't know if the woman works at night or has no control over her kids, but this partying and sex and other loud activity doesn't typically start until after about 11P. If I'm in my living room, which is right next to the front door, I can tell that it's about to jump off because the front door starts opening and closing a lot, voices become raised like a nightclub just opened, and footsteps start running up and down the stairs. Then the music starts pumping and the bed above my bedroom starts squeaking. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the high-heeled chick in that room was pimping herself out because it really does seem like she's on an every-night schedule. And my aunt has suggested that all the foot traffic could be drug traffic, although I don't think she has any real basis for that fear. In any event, this could turn into a nasty situation because my aunt has really wanted to evict the woman for a long time since the noise and extra "tenants" were complaints before I got here. If these guys think I'm doing the complaining, since I don't know them personally, I have no idea how they will react. But I think that my living room blinds, despite the lack of sunshine in my home, will stay closed until further notice. These days, you can't be too safe.